New York, April 8:
India’s Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi has declined to provide a copy of her passport to a US court, saying that government of India had denied her permission to do so.
However, in a letter filed by her lawyer in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Gandhi “voluntarily” relinquished the plea of lack of personal jurisdiction “without prejudice to the plea of want of jurisdiction in relation to the subject matter.”
Gandhi had filed a motion in the Brooklyn court seeking dismissal of a human rights violation case against her relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, asserting she had not been served the summons as she was not in the US between Sep 2 and Sep 9 last year.
But holding that Gandhi’s January 10 declaration was insufficient to prove her absence from US, Judge Brian M. Cogan had March 20 asked Gandhi to “provide a copy of her passport, showing her most recent entry and exit stamps into and out of the United States.”
“In matters of disclosure of my travels, which are contained in the passport document, the Government of India has informed me that they would not permit such a disclosure,” Gandhi wrote in a letter to her lawyer Ravi Batra.
“However, as I have nothing to hide, I voluntarily relinquish the plea of lack of personal jurisdiction.”
“I may add that the present submission is without prejudice to the plea of want of jurisdiction in relation to the subject matter,” she wrote.
The Brooklyn court had in Sep 2013 issued summons against Gandhi on a complaint filed by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and some victims of the 1984 violence.
Since Gandhi has conceded the court’s personal jurisdiction by withdrawing objection to service of summons, the court will move to subject matter jurisdiction to hear the charges of shielding and protecting those responsible for 1984 anti-Sikh riots, SFJ Legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.
The case against Gandhi hinged on the issue whether she was served on Sep 9 as claimed by SFJ or she was not present in the US during that time as asserted by her.
SFJ claims that on Sep 9, it had served the summons and complaint on the hospital and security staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York where Sonia Gandhi was believed to be undergoing medical treatment.