US court permits challenging PM Narendra Modi's immunity
The development comes in the wake of the release of a letter from the US State Department to the Department of Justice, conveying the request of the Indian government to have the case against PM Modi "dismissed on the basis of his immunity". The letter was written by Mary McLeod, a State department legal advisor to Joyce R Branda, the acting Assistant Attorney General, on September 30, the same day Modi met President Obama at the White House.
On October 19, Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York submitted to the court a suggestion of immunity for PM Modi in the human rights violation case.
The political and diplomatic considerations that motivated the US government's "Suggestion of Immunity," are apparent in the State Department letter. "This letter recognises the particular importance attached by the United States to obtaining the prompt dismissal of the proceedings against Prime Minister Modi in view of the significant foreign policy implications of such an action", the letter further stated, without making any comment on the merits of the case against PM Modi.
"The 'Suggestion of Immunity' filed by Bharara is not binding on the court. The human rights violations committed by Modi before becoming prime minister and as chief minister of Gujarat are not immune. US Federal Court has jurisdiction to hold Modi accountable under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act", stated Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to American Justice Center.
"The selective and arbitrary approach of the US Department of Justice on the issue of immunity to foreign leaders will be the key factor in challenging the immunity to PM Modi," added Pannun.