Petition to Deny the Application of Preeta Bansal



Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Office of Governor of New York
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224.


Dear Mr. Governor,


We the undersigned oppose the nomination of Preeta D. Bansal, Esq. to the New York Court of Appeals.  A judge on the State of New York's highest court must be rational, have sound judgment and demonstrate an ability to assess facts in a non-prejudicial manner without presumption.  We believe that, based on past actions and decisions taken and made by Ms. Bansal, her possession of the foregoing characteristics is questionable.  


Specifically, in 2005 when Ms. Bansal served as the Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) she and the Commission she led recommended that the United States Department of State deny Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, a diplomatic visa pursuant Section 212(a)(2)(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Agreement.  That Section makes any foreign government official that directly carried out particularly severe violations of religious freedom ineligible for a visa to enter the United States.  The basis for Ms. Bansal and the USCIRF's recommendation was the alleged involvement of Mr. Modi in religious riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002.  


Several independent judicial and investigative tribunals in India including those of India’s highest judicial body, the Supreme Court of India, have investigated Mr. Modi’s alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots and Mr. Modi has been cleared of any involvement in every instance. Despite this, in urging the State Department to deny Mr. Modi's application for a visa to enter the United States, Ms. Bansal said “The [USCIRF] communicated with the State Department about the matter some time ago. We urge the department to act with appropriate Indian officials to forestall or prevent the planned visit [by Narendra Modi.]”


Ms. Bansal and the USCIRF's recommendation were gravely irrational, irresponsible, prejudicial and presumptive.  Ms. Bansal's leadership role in adopting such a position clearly makes her unqualified for public service generally and judicial service on a state's highest court in particular.  In May of this year, Mr. Modi was elected Prime Minster of India with the first majority government in India in thirty years in what was the largest exercise of democratic rights of franchise the world has ever witnessed and this past week countless U.S. government leaders (including yourself) warmly welcomed Mr. Modi to the United States demonstrating that the decisions and actions taken by the USCIRF under Ms. Bansal's leadership were inappropriate.


For the foregoing reasons, we respectfully urge you not to propose Ms. Bansal for confirmation to the New York Court of Appeals.