Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Sher Agrawal

[prohindu] Update - Sonia Gandhi Defamation Case in USA Courts

Dahyabhai Patel Tue, Jun 3, 2008 at 5:11 PM
From: Kataria

To: tapanghosh
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 11:08 PM



Plea to dismiss $100 mn lawsuit filed to defend Sonia

From Our Delhi Bureau, New Delhi
Free Press Journal
June 1, 2008

A lawsuit by the Congress supporters seeking damages of US $100 million from the Hindu leaders in the United States for an offensive full-page advertisement in The New York Times during Congress President Sonia Gandhi's October visit gained momentum this month.

The Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) that had brought the lawsuit before the Supreme Court of New York in March further amended it on May 23 to seek damages for allegedly defending Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and the Congress Party and it was countered with an affidavit sworn in by Daniel J Kornstein on Friday on behalf of two Hindu leaders of North America implicated in the case.

The offensive advertisement was published by Forum for Saving (Mahatma) Gandhi's Heritage on October 6 on the occasion of Sonia Gandhi attending the UN's observance of the international non-violence day.

Daniel J Kornstein has asserted in the affidavit on behalf of the Hindu leaders, Narain Kataria and Arish Sahani, that neither the advertisement names INOC nor it concerns it in any way nor has it established actual malice to warrant the lawsuit. He has questioned INOC's locus standi on the ground that it is not defamed in any manner to claim damages.

The legal experts in Delhi say the American law requires the libel suit by only the persons concerned whose reputation has been damaged and as such the case won't stand unless Sonia Gandhi or an office-bearer of the Congress joins the lawsuit through an amended petition.

To nail that possibility, Kornstein's affidavit stresses that Sonia Gandhi is not a plaintiff and further quotes INOC President Surinder Malhotra affirming in an interview to Rediff India Abroad that "the party in India has nothing to do with this lawsuit" and claiming that he was "duty-bound to take this action" as he was "morally responsible to save the honour of our party president."

The Hindu organisations in the United States are, however, not taking lightly the lawsuit as they have already started raising funds through an Internet website,, to fight out what Kornstein describes as an attempt "to muzzle and punish Congress critics in America. He describes the advertisement as "in essence a protest" and asserts that such action is fully protected by the First Amendment to the American constitution.

There were demonstrations before the UN during Sonia Gandhi's visit and the advertisement was issued to assert that she was not related to Mahatma Gandhi and she was "attempting to misappropriate his name for political mileage and international legitimacy."

In the lawsuit, the INOC sought to assert that the advertisement contained false statements regarding Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and made direct accusations of misconduct against the Congress Party.

The counter-affidavit, however, asserts that the statements at issue in the advertisement were "constitutionally protected core political speech, based on official documents and previously published reports and therefore not made with "actual malice." The statements, moreover, are regarding Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party, none of whom is the plaintiff, the defence attorney affirms.

:The ad says nothing about INOC, but instead merely restates wellknown kinformation about Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party in India," the counter-affidavit said. The lawsuit had objected to the advertisement asserting in bold type that "Sonia's violence spans politial, spiritual and physical spheres. Sonia locked then Congress President (Sitaram Kesari) with party goons in a toilet and declared herself party president."

The counter-affidavit, however, quotes an article published in The Hindu on October 26, 2000 on how Kesari was humiliated, roughed up by goons in AICC and removed as the party President in 1999 to install Sonia Gandhi as the president. It goes on to point out that the issue is still being discussed in the Press and quotes the of December 26, 2007 in support.

Defending another accusation against Sonia Gandhi that she has looted the country on a large scale and violated multiple laws of the country with impunity, the counter-affidavit says the lawsuit is silent about the mention in the same paragraph about her family friend Quattrocchi. It says the paragraph merely reiterates what is published in the article titled "The Q Files" in India Today of January 30, 2006.

It goes on to point out that the complaint also did not challenge many more reasons mentioned in the advertisement to show Sonia Gandhi had benefited at public expense. Nor does the complaint challenge the statement that her late husband Rajiv Gandhi is alleged to have received secret payments from KGB and had a secret Swiss account of 2 billion dollars.

On Sonia's claim to have a degree from Cambridge University despite not studying beyond high school, the counter-affidavit says she had herself admitted this in an affidavit dated April 3, 2004 before the Election Commission of India in which she describes her education qualification as "certificate in English from Lennox Cook School, University of Cambridge, completed in 1965....

The complaint also objected to the advertisement stating that "Her son Rahul projected as next Prime Minister of India was detained by FBI with large unaccounted cash at Boston in 2001." The counter-affidavit says the advertisement "merely reiterates what has filled the press for years" and in support quotes an article in The Hindu on September 30, 2001 titled "Was Rahul Gandhi detained by FBI?" The article had stated that the US authorities do not take anything by chance and it had detained Rahul for about an hour at the Boston airport early that week.

On the complaint objecting to the advertisement calling the Congress Party as "pro-terrorist," the counter-affidavit said it only expresses the opinion that India is suffering as a result of "pro-terrorist policies." It goes on to assert that the "pro-terrorist policies" are those that benefit terrorists, even if unintentionally. In support, it quotes two write-ups in Times of India and Economic Times. These and other issues raised in the complaint that was modified on May 23 are countered by the defendent Hindu leaders' attorney, seeking dismissal of the lawsuit demanding the damages of US $100 million (Rs 400 crores).


US-based forum seeks dismissal of lawsuit over Sonia ad in NYT
31 May, 2008, 1940 hrs IST, PTI

NEW YORK: Faced with the USD 100 million law suit for allegedly defaming Congress President Sonia Gandhi during her visit here, two members of the so-called 'Forum for Saving Gandhi Heritage' have sought immediate dismissal of what they termed as a "politically motivated" libel action.

In a brief filed with the New York Supreme Court, their attorney Daniel J Kornstein said the "politically motivated" libel action by the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) should be "barred at the threshold."

Former Law Minister Subramanian Swamy, who was here recently, had consultation with Konstein before the brief was filed.

INOC, a US-based outfit that sympathises with the Congress, in its suit had contended that a full page advertisement taken out by the defendants in New York Times levelled several accusations against Sonia and her son Rahul which were defamatory in nature.

It demanded 100 million dollars in actual, compensatory, special and punitive damages in addition to costs and disbursements, legal fee and other relief that the court might deem "just, equitable and proper."

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