October 28, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
New York, United States (October 28, 2013): It is learnt that India’s Congress party’s president Sonia Gandhi has retained a New York law firm to defend her in a US Federal Court in a case for filed by the victims of Sikh genocide 1984 and the Sikhs for Justice, a US based human rights and advocacy group, for protecting the perpetrators of the November 1984 Sikh genocide.
Sonia Gandhi’s lawyer Ravi Batra submitted to the court on last hearing of the matter few days ago that Sonia Gandhi was at a hospital for treatment of an undisclosed medical condition. He claimed that she was not served with summons. Ravi Batra also contested that the court had no jurisdiction over the matter.
However the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) filed a service affidavit claiming alternate service to Gandhi on September 9, 2013 through the staff of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she had gone for her treatment.
The summons were issued by the US court against Sonia Gandhi on September 3 after the Sikhs for Justice and the victims-survivors of the Sikh Genocide 1984 filed a complaint against Sonia Gandhi.
The SFJ through its affidavit informed the court that a security agent was also handed over the summons as the court had allowed service of summons through hospital staff or security agents including those of the US Secret Service and the FBI.
While Judge Brian M Cogan did not allow plaintiffs’ request for issuance of certificate of default against Sonia Gandhi, which was sought on the ground that Sonia Gandhi, after being served, had failed to answer the allegations of human rights violation within the time allowed by the federal rules of civil procedure, the plaintiffs got four weeks’ time to submit an amended plaint. Appearance of Sonia Gandhi’s attorney in the court became a crucial point for the judge to deny the default judgment.
As per a news reported by the Times of India (TOI): “[c]onfirming the development on phone from New York Sonia’s counsel Ravi Batra told the TOI that they had told the court that the complaint was not sustainable and they had raised questions about the jurisdiction of the court on Sonia Gandhi. It is learnt that the arguments continued for over an hour in the court from both the sides”.
“Before the case moves to the jury trial the plaintiffs have to overcome the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kiobel Case which bars claims for torts committed in foreign countries, unless a strong connection to the United States could be established”, TOI news reads further.
Meanwhile, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser of the Sikhs for Justice, has said that the plaintiffs in the case had been granted refugee status by the United States based on the persecution suffered from November 1984 onwards and the likelihood of persecution in case of their return to India.
“The refugee status of plaintiffs establishes their connection to the United States and gives them right to approach the US courts to be properly compensated for their suffering and losses” he added.
It is learnt that Sonia Gandhi’s counsel Ravi Batra has said that they would seek dismissal of the case with finality and would seek an anti-suit injunction against the Sikhs for Justice besides other appropriate relief.
It is notable that during the November 1984 Sikhs were brutally massacred throughout India in a systematically organized and executed genocidal plan. The culprits have enjoyed state patronage and high political posts were awarded to them by the Congress party that is currently led by Sonia Gandhi.
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