The Congress party has challenged the jurisdiction of a US court to hear a case filed against it by a Sikh advocacy group for its alleged role in the November 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
During oral arguments in the US federal court in New York on Wednesday, Judge Robert Sweet noted that the Congress had only challenged the court's jurisdiction to hear the case and not filed any defence on the merits of the allegations against it.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had filed a complaint against the Congress in March 2011 under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA).
According to SFJ, attorneys for the Congress argued that service of summons on the Congress through Hague Convention is flawed as the party's headquarters in New Delhi did not receive the summons and the complaint.
Congress party lawyers also argued that it cannot be sued as a per a recent appellate court decision (Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum), that a "corporation" cannot be sued under Alien Tort Claims Act for human rights violations by its members.
SFJ lawyers in turn argued that there is difference between the status of a "corporation" and "political organization".
Unlike "Royal Dutch Petroleum", Congress is a political party with a mass following and political network across India, which was used to organize attacks on Sikh population of the India during November 1984, it alleged.
As the Congress is taking the defence that a political party cannot be sued under Alien Tort Claims Act, SFJ will amend its complaint to include the names of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the party's national leadership, SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.