New York , USA: While acknowledging that corporate entities like Congress party of India can be sued under Alien Torts Statute (ATS), Judge Robert W. Sweet of US District Court dismissed the 1984 rights violation lawsuit against Congress party for failure to show sufficient “touch and concern” to the United States.
The rights group “Sikhs for Justice” (SFJ) will challenge the dismissal of 1984 rights violation case against India’s Congress party before the US Court of Appeals on the grounds that this case sufficiently “touches and concerns” the United States and SFJ has “institutional standing” to seek “declaratory judgment” on November 1984 violence against the Sikh community.
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, an appeal has to be filed with the US Circuit Court within 30 days from the date of District Court’s order. Sikh right group’s appeal against the order of Judge Sweet dismissing the 1984 rights violation case is due by May 23.
On the issue of corporate liability, Judge Sweet, citing the case of Balintulo v. Daimler AG ruled that “Daimler seems to concretely establish that a corporate defendant can be liable under the ATS, assuming that the statute’s “touch and concern” requirements are adequately alleged”.
“Accordingly, the fact that Defendants are incorporated does not, in and of itself, relieve them of liability under the statute or remove this Court’s jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ allegations.” Stated April 24 ruling of the Judge Sweet.
“Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ combined facts, even if credited, are insufficient to establish that the conduct sufficiently “touched and concerned” the United States to establish jurisdiction under the ATS and dismissal is appropriate under 12(b)( 1)”
Mounting a legal challenge to the District Court’s ruling that claims of November 1984 victims do not “touch and concern” the US and are barred under Kiobel, the rights group will argue the appeal before US Court of appeals that the plaintiffs have already been granted refugee status by California Federal Court for being victims of violence committed by the Congress party in India which proves plaintiffs’ sufficient connection to the United States.
SFJ will also challenge the denial of its standing in this case, on the grounds that Federal Law grants “institutional standing” to human rights groups to seek “declaratory judgments” by the US Courts. In this case, SFJ is seeking judgment to declare November 1984 violence against the Sikh Community after the assassination of Indira Gandhi as “Genocide”. The monetary compensation in the case against Congress Party is being sought only by the individual plaintiffs who are survivors or legal heirs of the 1984 victims.
Terming the April 24 decision as beginning of the long legal uphill road for the victims to hold the “powerful and untouchables” accountable for their crimes against the Sikh community, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun stated that rights group will give documentation, evidence and testimony before court of appeals that India’s Congress party commands, controls and directs the functioning of New York based entity INOC (Indian National Overseas Congress), thus, satisfying Kiobel’s requirement of “touch and concern”.