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US court reserves ruling in 1984 riots case


New York, March 20 :

A US court has reserved its ruling on the Congress party’s plea for dismissal of a human rights violation case relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh violence filed by a US-based Sikh rights group.
Manhattan’s US Federal Judge Robert W. Sweet Wednesday reserved his ruling after the Congress party, challenging the “extraterritorial jurisdiction” of US courts, asked it to respect India’s sovereignty.

The Congress party argued that the US court should decline to hear the case as the party could not be held liable in a US court for “acts occurring in India nearly three decades ago, involving only residents of India, with no plausible nexus to the United States”.

If this case is allowed to continue it will be a frontal attack on India’s sovereignty, it said.

Urging Sweet to continue with the 1984 case, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) attorney Michael Fitzgerald said the 1984 violence was not an accident or coincidence but a plan to eliminate the Sikhs.

The death of 3,000 Sikhs in the 1984 violence cannot be characterised as “elimination”, countered the Congress party pointing out that millions of Sikhs live in India and a Sikh is the Prime Minister of India since 2004.

Challenging the Congress party’s contention that the 1984 case is “time barred” under US laws, Fitzgerald argued that Sikh rights’ violation is a “continuing offence” because Congress party still provides impunity to perpetrators of the 1984 violence.

In March 2011, a US court had issued summons against the Congress party in the class action lawsuit filed by SFJ under the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act.