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Sonia Gandhi to seek dismissal of lawsuit in 1984 riots case

Friday, 3 January 2014 - 12:05pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: PTI

 Congress President Sonia Gandhi will move a US court here seeking dismissal of a human rights violation lawsuit filed against her by a Sikh advocacy group and will urge the court to prevent it from filing further cases on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in America.

Gandhi's attorney Ravi Batra, who also represents the Congress party in the US courts, yesterday filed an 85-page memorandum in the District Court Eastern District of New York in support of Gandhi's motion for dismissal of the amended complaint filed against her by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

In the memorandum, Batra said that Gandhi "shall move before the Honorable Brian Cogan at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York" on February 7, 2014, for an order seeking dismissal of the SFJ lawsuit.

The dismissal will be sought since there is lack of personal jurisdiction upon Gandhi, insufficient service of process and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The motion also urges the court to enjoin SFJ from "filing any lawsuit or otherwise pursuing these claims or any other claims stemming from or related to allegations of conduct in India in 1984, post-assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her security personnel, without first having secured the express written consent of the Court." He has submitted in court a letter written to him on an All India Congress Committee letterhead and signed by Gandhi.

In the letter, Gandhi states that contrary to claims made by SFJ, she was not in New York in September last year and was not served summons in the case.

SFJ has said that it had served summons and the complaint on the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital and its security staff when Gandhi was allegedly undergoing medical treatment there in September.

"I was not in New York during the relevant period, namely, from September 2, 2013 to September 9, 2013. I was not served the Summons and Complaint on September 9, 2013 1 as claimed, or on any other date," Gandhi said in the letter.

The US Court has given SFJ time till January 23 to respond to the motion filed by Gandhi.

Batra argues that in filing the lawsuits against Gandhi and other Congress leaders, SFJ is engaged in a concerted effort to "abuse their access to the federal courts for what amounts to nothing more than receiving publicity." He said SFJ has repeatedly accessed the courts with their lawsuits "notwithstanding they are not entitled to it and they have no standing."

"Given that there is not a single non-conclusory allegation against Gandhi throughout the First Amended Complaint, beyond lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction, there is also no claim stated," Batra said.

He said that SFJ "blindly relied" on "multi-fold hearsay media reports" which had said that Gandhi was in New York in September and undergoing medical treatment at Sloan-Kettering.

SFJ's lawsuit alleges that Gandhi protected and shielded perpetrators of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.


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