US court issues `default order` against Kamal Nath

Last Updated: Friday, August 6, 2010 - 23:01

New York: A US district court has issued a
`default order` against Transport Minister Kamal Nath for his
failure to respond to summons in connection with a civil suit
filed here concerning his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh
riots.

"The dock entries indicate that the defendant had not
filed an answer or otherwise moved with respect to the
complaint," said the document of the New York Federal District
Court. "The default of the defendant is hereby noted."
Reacting to the default order, Nath said in New Delhi
that it came as a complete surprise to him and will take
appropriate legal advice and action.

"I have not been served with any summons to date. The
news of a Default Order, referred in the news report, being
passed against me for `failure to respond to summons` comes as
a complete surprise to me."

"However, I have taken note of the contents of the
news report and shall take appropriate legal advice and action
in the matter. In any event, I reiterate that I have committed
no wrong and I have been advised that proceedings initiated
against me in the USA are liable for summary dismissal."

Summons had been issued for Kamal Nath on April 6 and
he was expected to respond within 21 days.

The complaint was filed by a Sikh organisation `Sikhs
for Justice`, based in New York and India.
The minister was taken by surprise by the summons and
protests that were organised by the Sikh community when he
visited New York on an official trip in April.

"I really have no clue about it. I don`t have a basis
and I don`t know the authenticity. I don`t know the validity,"
Nath had said.

Nath has asserted his innocence. "Nobody has ever
charged me in India. But if the US charges me 25 years later
for something that has happened in India... well it just
reflects on the authenticity," he said.

"So I`m surprised and appalled."
The petitioners, who have filed the case filed under
the Alien Torts Claims Act, seek compensatory and punitive
damages for several allegations including crimes against
humanity, degrading treatment and wrongful killing.

The case will now be decided on the basis of the
evidence presented by the plaintiffs, according to Gurpatwant
Singh Pannun, the lawyer for the case
A "trial" would be the preferred choice but a judge
will have to decide whether to allow it, he said.

"We want to bring in witnesses and experts to testify
about what happened and the suffering of the victims," said
Pannun, noting that the plan was to approach people like
Khushwant Singh.

Pannun underlined that if the court finds Kamal Nath
to be in violation of human rights, the activists would push
the US State Department, Canadian Immigration Department and
governments of European Union countries to ban the minister`s
travel.

PTI



First Published: Friday, August 6, 2010 - 23:01

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