Skip to main content

US court dismisses Kutch fisherfolks' lawsuit against IFC funding of Tata power plant

By Our Representative
In a major setback to the fisherfolk of Kutch, Gujarat, who have been claiming that their livelihood has been adversely affected by the Tatas' coal-based ultra mega power plant (UMPP) at Mundra, the US District Court of Columbia has given clean chit to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the ground that IFC’s "direct involvement" in the Tata Mundra plant did not occur in the US but in India.
Pointing out that the post-approval disbursement of funds could be considered IFC’s failure to ensure proper design, construction, and operation of the plant, the court, however, ruled that mere transfer of funds from the US was not enough to establish “substantial contact” between the US and the complainants.
Fisherfolk Budha Ismail Jam and others filed suit in the US stating that IFC failed to look into destruction of livelihood while funding the project to the tune of $450 million out of tits total cost, $4.14 billion. The Earth Rights International (ERI), a US-based non-governmental, nonprofit organization, specializing in legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, had taken up the case on behalf of Kutch fisherfolk.
Suggesting that allegations of harm to the fisherfolk were "abstract" in nature as these did not happen in the United States, the court said, even if one accepted that all the allegations were true, the complainant could not established that the lawsuit was “based upon” conduct “carried on” in the US.
In fact, the court argued, the allegation that IFC had failed to ensure the plant was designed, constructed and operated with due care so as not to harm the local community's property, health, and way of life has not been established as having been carried on in the US; "instead, it was focused in India, where the plant is and the harms occurred", it insisted.
The lawsuit had sought to argue that IFC, private arm of the World Bank, was responsible for livelihood loss of Kutch fisherfolk by funding the Tata Mundra project
Given this framework, the court concluded that "the lawsuit does not fall within the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's (FSIA’s) commercial activity exception because the suit is not, at its core, based upon activity — commercial or otherwise — carried on or performed in the United States."
"Accordingly", the court ruling, signed by district court judge John D Bates, said, "IFC is immune from suit, and this Court will grant IFC’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." A separate order will be issued on this date.
The lawsuit had sought to argue that IFC, which is the private arm of the World Bank, was "liable for property damage, environmental destruction, loss of livelihood, and threats to human health arising from the construction and operation of the coal-fired Tata Mundra Power Plant in Gujarat, India."
The court previously dismissed the suit arguing that IFC enjoyed absolute immunity under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA). This led the complainants to approach the US Supreme Court, which reversed and remanded the case, holding that international organizations did not enjoy absolute immunity; instead, they enjoyed immunity enjoyed by foreign governments under FSIA.
Back to the Columbia district court, IFC sought to dismiss the complaint, arguing that IFC was immune from suit "even under the more limited immunity granted to foreign governments under the FSIA."
While the complainants countered that IFC was not immune because the suit fell under FSIA’s commercial activity exception, the court rejected it, saying, this did not apply here because the complainants had failed to establish that their suit was based upon conduct carried on in the United States.

Comments

TRENDING

RSS wanted Constitution 'replaced' by Manusmriti which abused Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam* The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 which is celebrated as the Constitution Day This Constitution promised new born Indian Republic a polity based on democracy, justice, egalitarianism and rule of law. However, RSS was greatly annoyed. Four days after the historic event of approval of it, the RSS English “Organiser” in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:

Dalits 'celebrate' Constitutional Power Era in 12,500 villages of 16 districts on Nov 26

By Pradip More*  It is a fact that the majority of the people do not have much knowledge about the law, and especially the Constitution. Yet, today's younger generation is becoming increasingly aware of its rights. One wished it would have been good if it was taught about the Constitution well in the schools.

Critics of your government should not be in jail: PUCL shoots open letter to Modi

Counterview Desk In an open letter, Ravikiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that raising human rights issues can ‘tarnish’ the country’s reputation, stating, those who raise human rights concerns do it “through established United Nations mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.”

Mysterious death of Kishenji 'triggered' series of splits in Maoist camp in India

By Harsh Thakor* On November 24 fell the 10th death anniversary of Kishenji, a prominent Maoist leader, he was also a poet, a scientist, and a soldier. Since his school days he dreamt of planting the seed to create new man. Born in 1954 in Peddapally town (in Karimnagar district, north Telangana), Kishenji was raised by his father Venkataiah (a “freedom fighter”, he called him) and a progressive mother, Madhuramma.

Covid taught us: Exams are cruel process of 'eliminating' those seeking education

By Sandeep Pandey, Seema Muniz, Gopal Krishna Verma* Some people are disheartened with the disruption in children’s education due to the menace of Covid and the successive lockdowns. While a number of children are getting used to attending online classes, their counterparts from the weaker socio-economic backgrounds continue to struggle either because of unfamiliarity with technology or because of having to share a single device with their siblings and/or parents. More unfortunate ones have been completely pushed out of the system which has resulted in the virtual drop in the rate of enrolment.

Book on Bhil rebels offers other side of history, neglected by 'nationalist' historians

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  One of the major accusations against Indian historians is that of neglecting and ignoring the role of the marginalised in the freedom struggle. Most of the time, we are ‘informed’ that there were some ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ of the freedom movement, all of them belonging to the same stock of caste as well as ‘power’ positions as their opponents.

Govt of India responsible for 71% delays in NREGA wage payments, say economists

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 70 economists have urged the Government of India to release “adequate funds” for implementing the rural jobs guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA immediately, pointing out that the pandemic continues to adversely affect the living condition of working families.

'We are scared to even raise our voice': Delhi sewer workers tell roundtable

By Our Representative  A roundtable attended by more than 100 sewer workers in Delhi, saw sharp voices against the contract system, poor wages and lack of any social benefits. Organised by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), which has refused to reveal the identity of the sewer workers who spoke on the occasion for fear of retaliation from the authorities, saw workers complain that have been working for more than 10 years, hoping that someday they would be made permanent.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Govt of India's 'narrative' of hate, 'clarion call' for onslaught on civil society: Ex-babus

Counterview Desk  Addressing “fellow citizens”, the Constitution Conduct Group (CCG), having former prominent civil servants as it members, has said that recent assertions by National Human Rights Commission National Human Rights Commission Justice (retd) Arun Mishra, the Prime Minister and General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, portent a deliberate and disturbing strategy to “deny civil society the space and wherewithal for its operation.”