New York: Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath has been summoned by a US federal district court for his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots based on a case filed by a Sikh outfit.
In the civil case filed under the Alien Torts Claims Act, the petitioners sought compensatory and punitive damages for several allegations including crimes against humanity, degrading treatment and wrongful killing.
However, Nath, who is incidentally here on a visit, said he was "surprised and appalled" as the case has been filed 25 years after the anti-Sikh riots in India.
"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. It was for the first time that I saw it," Nath told PTI when asked to comment on the case.
Nath has been served a notice and has to respond within 21 days failing which the court will give a default judgment on the matter.
The minister said that he would have to study the matter further.
"A piece of paper was given to me. I will have to see what the piece of paper is all about," he said.
Nath stressed that he had never been charged in any court and questioned why these allegations were being raised more than two decades after the tragedy and that too in a foreign land.
"Nobody has ever charged me in India. But if the United States charges me 25 years later for something that has happened in India...well it just reflects on the authenticity," he said.
"For the last 25 years I wasn't involved...suddenly in 2010 I get involved...There was nobody who stood up and said that he was a victim or that I was in any way connected. So I'm surprised and appalled."
The case has been filed by two Sikhs, Jasbir Singh and Mahinder Singh on behalf of the New York based organisation, Sikhs for Justice.
Their attorney Gurpatwant Pannun claimed Jasbir lost 24 members of his family and Mahinder, who was two-years-old then, lost his father.
"In India it is impossible to hold human rights violators," Pannun told PTI.
The Sikh group said that they are acting now because they have given up hope for action to be taken in India.
"We waited for all these years because commissions were being set up...there was hope but because of his position Kamal Nath has successfully avoided justice for 25 years," said Pannun.
Story First Published: April 07, 2010 13:47 IST