US court issues summons to Sonia in 1984 Sikh Genocide case
A Sikh rights group has obtained an order from a US federal judge for delivery of summons to Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, who is in New York for medical treatment, through hospital staff or security personnel assigned to her, including special agents of the US Secret Service and FBI.
The order was handed out by judge Brain M Cogan in a class action suit against Sonia Gandhi filed on September 3 by US-based rights group Sikhs For Justice along with some victims of the November 1984 anti-Sikh massacre under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) for her role in shielding Congress leaders allegedly involved in inciting attacks on Sikhs in November 1984.
Earlier, the Eastern District Court of New York (13 CV 4920) had served summons to Sonia Gandhi on September 3.
The group, which had 120 days to deliver the summons and complaint to Sonia Gandhi, on Monday obtained ex parte orders from Judge Cogan for service of summons to the Congress president through the staff of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer, where she is believed to be under medical care, or her security detail.
The fresh order from Judge Cogan came after the Sikh rights group filed an emergency motion with the judge for leave to effect alternative means of service because the process servers retained to serve Gandhi could not reach her due to her heavy security detail.
In the September 9 order, the judge directed that the summons and complaint on Sonia Gandhi be served by delivering a copy to the hospital administration or staff at the hospital where she is believed to be under treatment or to any of the security agents assigned to Sonia Gandhi during her stay in New York, including the US State Department detail, special agents of the Secret Service, special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, officers of the NY State Police, officers of NYPD and members of any private security details. The judge’s order further directs the hospital and security staff to give summons and complaint to Sonia Gandhi.
SFJ filed the motion contending that Sonia Gandhi was a foreigner and a high profile political figure and was the subject of heavy security. “The personal service of summons as required by section308(1), (2), (4) of CPLR is impracticable and plaintiffs be granted permission to effect service through alternate means,” its motion said.
The groups’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said, “The latest order of the court directing the members of US security agencies who are deputed with Sonia Gandhi while she is in US for medical treatment to give the summons and complaint to the Congress president is a clear message to those who believe that they could evade US court summons by virtue of their high political positions”.
“This underlines the difference between the justice delivery system of India and US,” he added.
In the lawsuit filed against Sonia Gandhi, the Sikh group is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the victims of the 1984 riots from Sonia Gandhi for her role in shielding Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and other Congress leaders who were allegedly involved in the violence.
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