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Updated: March 21, 2014 16:32 IST

US court asks Sonia to provide passport copy by April 7

PTI
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
PTI
Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

A U.S. court has ordered Congress president Sonia Gandhi to provide a copy of her passport as documentary evidence by April 7 to determine if she was in America in September last year when a Sikh rights group claims it had served summons on her in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) claims that Ms. Gandhi was served summons in September last year when she had allegedly visited Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York for a medical check-up.

The group has challenged in court Ms. Gandhi’s claim that she was not present in New York in September last year and so was not served with summons or complaint in the human rights violation lawsuit filed against her by the Sikh rights group.

Judge Brian Cogan of Manhattan federal court on Thursday said Ms. Gandhi has not demonstrated sufficiently that she was not in the U.S. between September 2 and 12 last year and should provide some form of documentary evidence, preferably her passport copy, by April 7 to determine whether she was in the U.S. or not.

“The court cannot find that a sufficient showing of non-presence has been made based on the affirmation without plaintiffs having received some discovery to confirm it. Defendant must provide some documentary evidence to corroborate her otherwise-unsupported declaration stating that defendant was not in the U.S. at the time of service,” he said.

“It seems to the court that the easiest way would be for defendant to provide a copy of her passport, showing her most recent entry and exit stamps into and out of the United States, thus demonstrating that she was not in the country between September 2 and 12, 2013,” he said.

SFJ’s rights violation case against Ms. Gandhi in Brooklyn Federal Court hinges on the issue of whether Ms. Gandhi was served summons on September 9 as the group claims or whether she was not present in the U.S. during that time as per her assertion.

Ms. Gandhi has filed a motion in court seeking dismissal of the lawsuit against her citing lack of personal jurisdiction and that she was never personally served with the summons.

Responding to Cogan’s order, Ms. Gandhi’s attorney Ravi Batra said the judge “focused on Gandhi’s sworn declaration, has asked for documentary supporting proof to expedite issue-resolution and not waste time on SFJ-sponsored wild goose chases. Swift justice, when available, is to be cherished, and as attorneys for Ms. Gandhi, we welcome it.”

Mr. Batra has submitted in court a letter written to him on an All India Congress Committee letterhead and signed by Ms. Gandhi.

In the letter, Ms. 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 legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said if Ms. Gandhi is not able to provide proof by April 7 corroborating her claim of absence from the U.S., the group would move the court to initiate trial on the merits against her on charges of shielding and protecting Congress party leaders allegedly involved in the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

The fault lies on those mean sikh groups who are betraying India whenever an opportunity comes as such. These are the same sikhs who disrupt India's Independence Day celebration in USA and Canada. Its a shame on the sikh community who are trigger happy to malign India for their vested interests by prostrating before US and western countries.

Sikhs are a confused identity. On one hand they make martyrs out of anti nationals, the likes of Bhindranwale. On the other hand they live in UK and condemn that country for its role in operation blue star. This is the height of hypocrisy and superficial nature, sadly sikh community has today.

Can the sikhs declare their allegiance to India? Be grateful to India- a great country which has been considerate and gave you guys more opportunities all the time. Don't shame your self by begging before US and other countries. Indian courts are far fair and supreme in delivering judgements than US courts.

from:  Prasan
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 15:44 IST

What business does the US courts have in asking Sonia Gandhi for what happened in 1984 and whether she was in USA in 2002 at such and such times?

from:  Parthasarathy Shakkottai
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 09:12 IST

To all those who are puzzled by the request to provide copy of
passport, there is something called "serving process", somewhat like
your RPAD in India for proof of having served on the defendant.
Apparently this looks like she was "Served", meaning the filing in the
court was served on her, someone signed for it and received it on her
behalf and that is sufficient proof that she was served and she must
respond to the complaint filed in the court. This might have
ramifications on her next visit when she lands at the airport. That
being said, US judges don't know they will even create a new passport
and give them a fake copy to disprove that she was never in NY. Like
they say, in India you can file for a anticipatory bail and get one by
default, because the crime committed is not known to anybody. In US,
if you seek an anticipatory bail for a criminal offense, the judge
will ask, "Why do you need an anticipatory bail"....no carte blanche
here!

from:  Krishna S Bala
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 04:52 IST

Regarding the statement: “... entry and exit stamps into and out of the United States ...": Upon one's arrival into USA, the entry is stamped in his/her passport. Unlike in India, when someone leaves USA, there is NO exit stamp made in anyone's passport.

from:  Kanchi Gandhi
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 03:34 IST

The over reach of the system stinks. I am not a Sonia sympathizer, but
assuming she was in US territory between the dates does not prove the
fact that she was served notice. Even if she was in NY on the dates
mentioned, she need not have received the summons.

from:  N.Sankar
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 15:03 IST

What jurisdiction has US Court Has Over happenings in india ???

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 14:54 IST

Sonia Gandhi not in USA from September 2 to 12, 2013? Reward of USD
20K to testify Sonia's stay in US during September 13? How is this
related to 1984 Sikh riots in Delhi ?
Unbelievable reality of a justice system.
I do feel for the sufferings of Sikh community in 1984 anti-Sikh
riots. However, if truth is important in justice, then a bureaucracy that
perpetuates injustice should be summarily rejected; despite any
sincere interpretation of law.
I am no congress supporter. But for the life of me I can not understand how we can, in 2014, hold Sonia Gandhi responsible for 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
To harass a Global Citizen without proper evidence in the name of law
itself is human rights violations. US and its Justice system is becoming a laughing stock.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 14:42 IST
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