U.S. Petition Seeks Punishment for 11 Modi Govt Officials

Nirmala Sitharaman (file photo) Photo: PIB
Nirmala Sitharaman (file photo) Photo: PIB

By RMN News Service

A formal petition filed under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act urges the U.S. government to impose economic and visa sanctions against 11 officials in the government of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi for corruption and serious violations of human rights.

The petition dated August 3, 2022 has been filed by a U.S. citizen Ramachandran Viswanathan against the following 11 “Perpetrators” in the Modi government.

Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister (May 2019 – Present);

Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman of Antrix Corporation Limited (“Antrix”) (June 2016 – Present);

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General (October 2018 – Present);

Hemant Gupta, Judge, Supreme Court of India (November 2018 – Present);

V. Ramasubramanian, Judge, Supreme Court of India (September 2019 – Present);

Judge Chandra Shekhar, Special Judge (PC Act), New Delhi; 

Ashish Pareek, Deputy Superintendent of Police, CBI, New Delhi;

Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Director of Enforcement, Enforcement Directorate;

R. Rajesh, Assistant Director, Enforcement Directorate;

N. Venkatraman, Additional Solicitor General of India;

A. Sadiq Mohamed Naijnar, Deputy Director of the Enforcement Directorate.

In 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 along with Executive Order 13818 authorized the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed serious human rights offenders and to freeze their assets and restrict them from entering the United States, if they are found to have committed serious human rights abuses.

This action brought forth by a U.S.-based humanitarian organization Frontiers of Freedom on behalf of Ramachandran Viswanathan and in cooperation with his counsel, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is stated to be in response to the Modi regime’s campaign of transnational repression against Mr. Viswanathan.

The petition states that the Modi government has sought to hoodwink the U.S. government into using the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters between the U.S. and India to gain intelligence, monitor, question and arrest Mr. Viswanathan. 

Alarmingly, it argues that the Indian government has put forth fake claims of fraud and criminal actions to Interpol in a deliberate effort to secure a Red Notice for the arrest and extradition of Mr. Viswanathan.

It is contended that this is all to stop the efforts of Mr. Viswanathan’s company he co-founded, Devas, from enforcing a billion dollar arbitration judgment against the Indian government.

“The actions of the autocratic Indian regime led by Prime Minister Modi are an assault on the rule of law and the rights and freedoms granted to every American. We urge the U.S. government to look past India’s façade and punish, with sanctions, those who seek to violate the rights of Mr. Viswanathan,” said George Landrith, President of Frontiers of Freedom. “By doing so, the U.S. will send a strong signal to India and the rest of the world that the United States will not hesitate to stand up for the rule of law, and the rights and freedoms granted to every American.” 

Ramachandran Viswanathan is currently CEO of Omnispace, a company focused on delivering 5G-based ‘one global network.’ He is also the co-founder of Devas Multimedia.

Business Standard had reported in January 2022 that “unfazed by the Supreme Court upholding winding up of the company, shareholders of Devas Multimedia will continue to seek seizure of Indian government assets abroad to collect USD 1.2 billion the firm has been awarded by arbitration tribunals for cancellation of a satellite deal but are open for talks to settle the issue.”

Matthew D. McGill, lead counsel to Devas shareholders and partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, made the following statement upon submission:

“The submission of this petition on behalf of Mr. Viswanathan sends a strong message to India: U.S. businesspersons and investors are protected under U.S. and international law, and any attempts to intimidate, harass, or retaliate against them by abusing international organizations and treaties will be met with swift, definitive action. The autocratic perpetrators within the Modi regime will be held accountable for their lawless, thuggish behavior.”

In July 2022, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland raising concerns that India (and other foreign governments) are abusing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) and the Interpol Red Notice Process.

Also, in June 2022, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced a resolution to condemn human rights violations and violations of international religious freedom in India. The resolution calls on the U.S. Secretary of State to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act, which has been recommended by the independent, bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for the past three years. 

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Rakesh Raman