This week, Law360 reported that Frontiers of Freedom, an American NGO dedicated to protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals and businesspersons across the globe, submitted a petition under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act “to enact serious sanctions against 11 Indian officials for alleged human rights abuses committed against” Devas co-founder Ramachandran Viswanathan.
Read the full petition filed by Frontiers of Freedom here.
The petition was provided to the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury, and requests that the U.S. government implement economic and visa sanctions on 11 of Modi’s top officials for their “attempts to extradite Devas Multimedia’s Ramachandran Viswanathan to India for trial, where he would likely be unlawfully detained and subject to inhumane treatment.”
Matthew D. McGill, lead counsel to Devas shareholders and partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, lauded the filing of the petition:
“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.”
The Modi government, in its desperate campaign to evade paying lawful arbitration awards owed to Devas shareholders, have engaged in an abusive campaign of harassment and transnational repression against Mr. Viswanathan, including unlawful attempts to use the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters between the U.S. and India to “gain intelligence, monitor, question and arrest Mr. Viswanathan” as noted by Frontiers of Freedom.
George Landrith, President of Frontiers of Freedom, in announcing the petition stated, “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.”
Law360 writes further “Indian officials have also asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” asking worldwide officials to arrest Viswanathan, which means that the satellite company founder cannot leave the U.S. without the fear of being detained…”
All of this behavior is very clearly a violation of Mr. Viswanathan’s rights and freedoms. Frontiers of Freedom reiterates that the Modi government’s actions are simply retaliation and intended 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 11 Indian Government Officials Named by Frontiers of Freedom
- Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister (May 2019 – Present)
- Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman of Antrix Corporation Limited (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
The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 along with Executive Order 13818 authorizes the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who have been deemed serious human rights offenders. The sanction would freeze the offenders’ assets and block them from entering the United States. Frontiers of Freedom collaborated with Mr. Viswanathan’s counsel, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, as well as Mr. Viswanathan himself to compile and submit the petition.