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Congress seeks dismissal of 1984 riots case in US court

June 07, 2012 16:36 IST

The Congress Party has sought dismissal of an anti-Sikh riots case against it in a United States court on the ground that the case was filed nearly 25 years after the 1984 riots took place.

A US judge will hear the motion on June 27.

In a motion filed in federal court in New York on May 29, the Congress party has sought dismissal of the claims filed by rights group Sikhs For Justice, saying the riots took place in November 1984 and the victims filed their case in March 2011.

Due to the lapse of 25 years, the statute of limitation had already expired, lawyers for the political party said.

"Plaintiffs' claims are time-barred because they complain about alleged activities that occurred more than twenty-five years ago; all statutes of limitations have long expired," said attorney Geoffrey Stewart of the law firm Jones Day, which is defending the Congress in the case.

The party has been accused by the Sikh group of conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out attacks on the community in November 1984 following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

Judge Robert Sweet, presiding over the matter, said the Congress' motion to dismiss SFJ's complaint or to get a stay would be heard on June 27.

Meanwhile, the SFJ said Congress Member of Parliament Motilal Vora submitted an affidavit in the US Court in support of the motion to dismiss the complaint filed by riot victims.

Vora's affidavit states that "no summons and complaint from the New York Litigation was delivered to the Indian National Congress Party in accordance with the Hague Service Convention".

The affidavit further states that city-based Indian National Overseas Congress is not a subsidiary or affiliate of the Indian National Congress Party of India.

SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said since the Congress party has no defence on the merits against charges of planning and carrying out the attacks, it is attempting to manipulate and delay the trial by "filing motions on baseless grounds".

Referring to Vora's affidavit, Pannun said the Congress is thwarting the delivery of summons and complaint to its head office.
The SFJ would request the court to deny the motion to dismiss the charges because despite being aware of the lawsuit and having ample opportunities to address the charges, Congress chose not to respond and has thus waived all the defences, Pannun added.

Yoshita Singh
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