Anti-Sonia advertisement: US court dismisses defamation suit

August 16th, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Washington, Aug 16 (IANS) A New Jersey court has dismissed a $100 million defamation suit filed by the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) for allegedly maligning Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying it has no locus standi to claim damages. The defamation case arose from a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on Oct 6, 2007, levelling several charges against Gandhi and her son Rahul during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson’s visit to the UN.

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Patricia DelBueno Cleary Friday dismissed the case holding that INOC was not the proper party and did not have the locus standi to bring a claim of defamation because none of the statements were of or about it, Satyanarayana Dospati, one of the defendants, said.

A detailed judgment would be made available next week. INOC was not immediately available for comment.

INOC had filed two separate cases relating to the advertisement, one in New Jersey and another in New York, seeking $100 million in actual, compensatory, and punitive damages in addition to costs and disbursements, legal fees and other relief that the court might consider proper.

The defendants in the New Jersey case were the Hindu International Council Against Defamation, Mahatma Gandhi International Foundation, Hindu International Council Against Defamation, Mahatma Gandhi Center and Hindu Temple, Naresh Sharma, Satyanarayana Dospati and Sunanda Thali whose names appeared on the advertisement

The case in New York was filed against Narain Kataria and Arish Sahani of “Forum for Saving Gandhi’s Heritage” whose names appeared in the advertisement.

Both INOC and defendants in the case filed in New York have already filed written submissions and oral arguments are scheduled for Oct 2.

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