What is the truth behind Sonia Gandhi's trips to the US?

Why would Sonia Gandhi claim something that was different from what was told to the media by Dwivedi? The media reports clearly said that she was in US, even though she might not have received the summons.

Rahul Roushan April 08, 2014 19:50:37 IST
What is the truth behind Sonia Gandhi's trips to the US?

Last year in September, a US court had reportedly served a summons to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a human rights violation case related to the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

The summons were served after a group called SFJ (Sikhs for Justice) filed a civil suit in a Brooklyn Federal Court alleging that Mrs Gandhi was guilty of shielding some Congress members who had played an active role in the 1984 riots.

What is the truth behind Sonia Gandhis trips to the US

A file photo of Sonia Gandhi. PTI

The court sent the summons at a time when Sonia Gandhi was reported to be in the US to for a “routine medical checkup”. She had gone to the US after being briefly hospitalised at AIIMS, New Delhi. One may recall that she had felt some uneasiness and had to abruptly leave the Lok Sabha debate on the Food Security Bill — an event that was recounted many times by Rahul Gandhi in his election rallies.

Unlike some of her other foreign trips, this particular trip was not a “secret”. There were media reports informing the public in advance that she indeed would be travelling abroad for medical reasons. Here is a Firstpost report based on a PTI copy, which quotes Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi confirming Sonia’s trip to the US for six to eight days.

The Congress party had requested the media to respect Mrs Gandhi’s privacy and not pry too much into the affair — a request that was respected by the media.

The only time any major news report relating to Sonia Gandhi was filed from the US was when this US court suddenly sent a summons to her. Here is a  WSJ report that documents this development, and also reiterates that Sonia Gandhi was in the US for a medical checkup when the court issued the summons.

The WSJ report says that the responsibility for delivering the summons to Sonia Gandhi lay with the plaintiff, ie the SFJ. According to this report in The Hindu, which is based on a PTI copy, the SFJ did leave copies of the summons in the hospital in a rather “improper” manner, but the hospital staff never delivered them to Sonia Gandhi.

So based on media reports, Sonia Gandhi was in the US but she never received the summons.

But here is the surprise element: Sonia Gandhi apparently claimed to the court that she did not receive the summons because she was not in the US from 2 September to 9 September 2013.

Why would Sonia Gandhi claim something that was different from what was told to the media by Dwivedi? The media reports clearly said that she was in US, even though she might not have received the summons.

Following this seemingly bizarre claim, the US court reportedly asked Sonia Gandhi to provide them her passport to prove her travel claims. And as per the latest reports, Sonia Gandhi has refused to provide the passport.

The issue here is not the case against her. Prima facie, the US court has no jurisdiction, either personal or on this subject matter, to summon her for any human rights violation that may have happened in India. Jaideep Prabhu, in this article, argues why the case against Sonia is weak. He further suggests, and rightly so, that as a nation India should object to such treatment to Indian leaders.

The issue here is what made Sonia Gandhi claim that she was not in the US during the period when every bit of public information speaks to the contrary? A statement submitted to a court can’t be made so casually.

Around three years ago, India Today tried to get details of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign trips through an RTI, and no specific information was received.

Now her latest claims about her whereabouts last September make her international travels “mysterious” again.

What is the truth about her travels to the US?

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