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Congress opposes appeal by Sikh rights group in 1984 riots case

By Yoshita Singh
August 09, 2014 15:25 IST
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The Congress has opposed an appeal filed by a Sikh group that challenged dismissal of the 1984 rights violation case against it, saying the group does not represent the victims and United States courts cannot rule on cases involving an incident that took place in India 30 years ago.

Indian-American attorney Ravi Batra, on behalf of the Congress party, filed opposition yesterday in federal court to the appeal by the Sikh for Justice.

The SFJ had in May challenged the dismissal of the 1984 rights violation case against the Congress party saying that the case "concerns" the US and it has "institutional standing" to seek judgment on behalf of the Sikh community.

Batra said US federal judge Robert Sweet was right to dismiss SFJ's case in April since the rights group is no victim and neither does it represents the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

He argued that US courts must "honour India's sovereignty in a matter that arose 30 years ago in India by and between Indians," and so it must be dealt with in India alone.    

Batra said that the Indian National Congress, as a legal corporate entity and not a natural living breathing person, is incapable of extra-judicial killings or torture.

"SFJ's cases seek mere publicity and not justice, as SFJ cannot legally be a plaintiff, and a genuine victim, precious to the law, deserves a better champion," Batra said.

Batra also criticised SFJ for "making noises" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the US and said the group had improperly sued former PM Manmohan Singh also last year, "despite his head-of-state immunity."

The SFJ has launched an online petition campaign urging President Barack Obama to cancel invitation to Modi for the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.

He said SFJ's actions are "unbecoming, and at worst an exposure of SFJ's unlimited hunger for publicity while it indiscriminately dishonors India and all Indians in these United States without cause."

The US court of appeals has granted SFJ time till August 22 to file its brief against the Congress's arguments.

Image: A protest against the 1984 Sikh riots

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