In the pending case of shielding prominent Congressmen for their alleged involvement in the 1984 anti Sikh riots, radical Sikh rights group “Sikhs for Justice” (SFJ) on Tuesday, managed to serve the summons to Congress president Sonia Gandhi through hospital and security staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.
The Summons and Complaint was served on hospital and security staff of Sloan-Kettering amidst heavy commotion and resistance from the staff. Ms. Ester Ruiz, the Night Shift Nursing Supervisor at the Sloan-Kettering was handed a copy of summons, complaint as well as the order of Judge Cogan’s directing her to give the documents to Sonia Gandhi. A copy of the summons was also handed to Alvin Millner, the Security Manager at Sloan-Kettering for delivery of the same to Congress President, according to a statement issued by the SFJ.
As per Federal Rules after the service of summons and complaint, Ms. Gandhi has till September 30th to answer the allegations of protecting and shielding the congress leaders . The September 3 summons state that if defendant Ms. Gandhi failed to respond within 21 days after service, a default judgment will be entered against her.
On Monday, a US Federal Judge Brain M. Cogan, had ordered service of summons and complaint on Congress president Sonia Gandhi through Hospital Staff or security personnel of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer, after the plaintiffs requested the court to allow alternate means of service since they were facing difficulty in serving summons to a high profile leader with special security.
As per a similar decision in the case of former Chinese Premier Li Peng, in the case of alternate means of service through court orders, once summons and complaint are delivered to the security personnel or staff, the service on the defendant is considered accomplished by the US Federal Courts in Alien Tort and Torture Victim Protection Act cases, said the statement.
According to Attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ service of US Court summons on Sonia Gandhi is complete for all purposes, because Judge Cogan had allowed serving hospital and security staff of Sloan-Kettering instead of personally handing over the summons to Ms. Gandhi.
A class action suit against Ms. Gandhi was filed by the SFJ, along with two victims of November 1984 under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). SFJ and the victims are seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Congress party president for her role in shielding and protecting Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and other Congress party leaders from being prosecuted for their alleged crimes.