New York, Nov 21: A US federal court has asked the State Department to respond by December 10 to a human rights group's challenge to immunity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged complicity in 2002 Gujarat riots.
The order by Judge Analisa Torres of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York asked the Department to respond to American Justice Centre's Nov 14 plea asserting that Modi could not be granted immunity for his actions as Chief Minister.
An attorney for the American Justice Centre and two survivors of the Gujarat riots argued that Modi was being sued for acts committed as "Chief Minister" of Gujarat and not for any acts that he committed as "Prime Minister" of India.
"It is undisputed that foreign sovereign immunity extends only to the 'head of the foreign government' for the actions committed during tenure as 'head of foreign government,'" AJC's Memorandum of Law argued.
Several federal courts have rejected immunity for foreign officials facing charges of blatant human rights abuses, AJC said.
AJC argued that Modi is not immune under Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA), as the US Supreme Court had decided that the term "foreign state" does not include individual government officials.
In the Tort case against Modi, it is the latter who is being sued and not the Republic of India, it said.
AJC argued that law allows lower federal courts to hold common law foreign sovereign immunity inapplicable for government officials sued for human rights abuses.