Even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his three-city tour of Canada this week a Canadian justice issued summons against him to stand trial before a Canadian court after determining that there was a prima facie case that he “committed or counselled torture,” during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat.
However, the summons were instantaneously blocked by the Crown, which invoked its right to withdraw the information, and thus end the process and block the private prosecution of the Prime Minister.
Nevertheless the issuance of summons was hailed as victory by the plaintiffs, who are two survivors of the pogrom, under the aegis of a rights group known as Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ said, “April 15 will go down in the history as ‘victims of torture day’ as after over a decade, a court of law has finally recognised evidence of Narendra Modi’s involvement in the massacre of Muslims in 2002, and found that this evidence is sufficient for Modi to stand trial.
He added that Mr. Modi had “escaped trial on the charges of torture under Canadian law only because of the Attorney General's last-minute intervention.”
The summons issued to Mr. Modi, which The Hindu has in its possession, are under Section 269.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code, and refer to the allegations brought by victim “Asifbhai V.” on two counts.
The two counts are that Mr. Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat “did inflict torture” upon the victim and his family by engaging in acts of omission and commission “that intentionally caused severe pain and suffering, including death, for reasons based on religious discrimination.”
Although the issuance of summons came after a seven-hour in camera hearing with the Justice of Peace, the case will not move forward any further on Canadian soil because the Ontario Court of Justice initially moved to “process to issue”, and then the information was “withdrawn by request of the crown”.
Although The Hindu reached out to the Indian government’s representatives in Canada for a response to the news of the summons, none were received at the time this story went to press.