April 18, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: A defamation law suit has been filed against Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in Canada under the Canadian laws for alleging that a Sikh human rights’ advocacy group was playing into the hands of Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a Sikh human rights advocacy group, in a “Statement of Claim” filed with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice against Amarinder claims damages of $1 million and a permanent injunction against him from republishing or facilitating the republication of defamatory statements against the human rights group.
While confirming this, Attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ, who filed the defamation suit. SFJ has also announced a reward of $10,000 to anyone in Punjab who would serve the Canadian court summons to the Punjab CM.
Claiming injury to SFJ’s reputation, the complaint states, “By reason of the publication of the defamatory statements SFJ has been injured in its reputation. The defamatory statements have caused reputational damage to the SFJ’s status as a non-profit organisation and, among other things; have hindered its ability to address the ongoing issues of significance to Sikh community residing in Canada.”
Pannun further claims, “It is an open secret that Capt Amarinder had a personal grudge against him and the SFJ; therefore, he made the statements on the SFJ-ISI nexus as a retaliation to Sikh groups’ successful campaign to block him from addressing political rallies in Canada, the US and European Union countries and also an effort to hold him accountable for human rights violations during his tenure as the CM of Punjab from 2002 to 2007.
Terming Amarinder’s statements calling SFJ as ISI agents as callous, he stated “Amarinder made these allegations with the intention to hurt the reputation of SFJ with malice and knowledge that these statements are false”.
“In 2016, SFJ was instrumental in blocking Amarinder from addressing political rallies in Canada. We used Canadian laws which strictly prohibit such activities and SFJ filed a criminal prosecution case based on the affidavits of individuals who were tortured during his (Amarinder’s) tenure as CM of Punjab from 2002 to 2007,” Pannun added.
“We have served Amarinder in May 2016, who was visiting California, then, with “Notice of Libel” informing him to “take notice that intended that Plaintiff, Sikhs for Justice, will commence proceedings against you, the intended Defendant, Amarinder Singh, for defamatory statements you made between April and July 2016 (the defamatory statements) unless the Punjab CM retracts the same, but Amarinder failed to do so,” he said.
The ISI-SFJ nexus controversy started when responding to the Sikh advocacy group’s “Torture” case (2016) in Canada, Captain Amarinder stated, “SFJ is playing into the hands of the anti-India forces like the ISI to embarrass India and project as if rights violations was the norm of the day in the country (India) like some dictatorships in different parts of the world.”