The News Minute | September 26, 2014 | 11:37 pm IST
New York/New Delhi: India on Friday slammed as "frivolous and malicious attempt to distract attention" through a case filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a New York court for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots as state chief minister.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin, said that the case, filed on the eve of Modi's visit to the US, is a "a frivolous and malicious attempt to distract attention from the visit of the prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly and a bilateral summit with the president of the United States".
The spokesperson said the "allegations in the case are baseless and similar to other such allegations made in the past against the prime minister.
"A Supreme Court of India-monitored investigation has comprehensively examined and dismissed these allegations as baseless," Akbaruddin said.
"It is unfortunate that vested interests are raking up the matter only to vitiate the atmosphere during the visit," he added.
Modi arrived in New York Friday on a five-day visit, during which he will address the UN General Assembly and also hold summit meetings with US President Barack Obama.
New York-based American Justice Centre (AJC) obtained the summons from the US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York in a suit filed with two survivors of what it called the "horrific and organised violence of Gujarat 2002".
Filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), the 28-page complaint charges Modi with "committing crimes against humanity, extra-judicial killings, torture and inflicting mental and physical trauma on the victims, mostly from the Muslim community".
AJC said it was providing legal support and advice to the survivors in their effort to hold "Modi accountable for his complicity in the violence".
The survivors are suing Modi for the loss of lives and trauma in their families, and causing emotional, financial and psychological devastation in their lives.
"The Tort Case against Prime Minister Modi is an unequivocal message to human rights abusers everywhere," said John Bradley, an AJC director. "Time and place and the trappings of power will not be an impediment to justice."
The Alien Tort Claims Act, also known as Alien Tort Statute (ATS), is a US federal law first adopted in 1789 that gives the federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by US residents for acts committed in violation of international law outside the US, AJC said.
Sikhs for Justice, another human rights group, plans to hold a "Citizens' Court" in a park in front of the White House to try Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, when he will be holding a summit meeting with President Obama.
The external affairs ministry spokesperson also said that the India-American community in the US "is also eagerly looking forward to the prime minister's visit and has prepared a rousing reception for him".