New York, Apr 7: The US federal district court has summoned India's Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath in connection with the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots case following a case filed by a Sikh outfit.
The civil case under the Alien Torts Claims Act was filed by two Sikhs, Jasbir Singh and Mahinder Singh on behalf of the New York based organisation, Sikhs for Justice.
In their petition, the petitioners appealed for compensatory and punitive damages for several allegations including crimes against humanity, degrading treatment and wrongful killing.
Expressing shock at the summon, Nath, who is on a visit to US questioned why the petition was filed 25 years after the incident took place. He said that he was 'surprised and appalled' at the allegations being raised at this point in time.
"I really have no clue about it. I don't have a basis and I don't know the authenticity. I don't know the validity. It was for the first time that I saw it," Nath said when asked to comment on the case.
As per the notice served to Nath, he has to respond within 21 days. A default jugdement will be passed on the matter in case he fail to respond to the summon within the prescribed time.
Nath said that he would reveiw the matter and see it is all about.
"A piece of paper was given to me. I will have to see what the piece of paper is all about," he said.
Stating that he has never been summoned in the case before, Nath asked why the allegations were made 25 years after the incident and that too in a foreign country.
"Nobody has ever charged me in India. But if the United States charges me 25 years later for something that has happened in India...well it just reflects on the authenticity," he said.
"For the last 25 years I wasn't involved...suddenly in 2010 I get involved...There was nobody who stood up and said that he was a victim or that I was in any way connected. So I'm surprised and appalled," he added.
Explaining the filing of the petition in US, the petitioners' attorney, Gurpatwant Pannun, said that the matter was taken up in the US court because it was not possible to try human rights violator in India.
"In India it is impossible to hold human rights violators," Pannun said.
Pannun said that Jasbir Singh has lost 24 members of his family in the riot, while Mahinder, who was two-years-old at the time of the incident, lost his father.
He said that Sikh group decided to move the US court as it had lost hope on acquiring justice in India.
"We waited for all these years because commissions were being set up...there was hope but because of his position Kamal Nath has successfully avoided justice for 25 years," said Pannun.