US court dismisses 1984 rights violation case against Congress

  • PTI, New York
  • Updated: Dec 20, 2014 19:17 IST

A federal appeals court has dismissed a 1984 Sikh rights violation case filed against Congress Party by a rights group, saying that the case does not sufficiently "touch and concern" the US.

A three-judge panel of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the case, dismissing charges made by rights Sikhs for Justice that the Congress was responsible for extra judicial killings and the riots that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The panel ruled that "even assuming that, as plaintiffs allege, defendants-appellees Indian National Congress Party and (Congress leader) Kamal Nath carried out or were responsible for acts of violence against Sikhs, those acts were taken by Indian nationals against other Indian nationals in India. Under the presumption against extra territoriality, we lack jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims."

The panel said the victims' claim lack "sufficient touch and concern" with the United States and also declined to rule on the issues of plaintiffs' standing, the sufficiency of service of process and personal jurisdiction.

"Accordingly, because all of the conduct relevant to the alleged ATS (Alien Torts Statute) violations occurred abroad, defendants' alleged presence in the US is insufficient to
displace the presumption against extraterritoriality and to establish jurisdiction under the ATS," the appeals court said.

SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said that the group will re-litigate the case.

Welcoming the ruling of the court, Congress party's attorney Ravi Batra told PTI that SFJ should accept that its "lawsuit campaign is wrong, stop now and give up."

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