India, Dec. 22 -- The Ottawa-based think tank Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) has said that a civil defamation lawsuit filed against it by the separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a "meritless attempt to silence public debate".

The reaction came after SFJ filed a complaint with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice over the institute's report 'Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan', claiming it was a "malicious attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Referendum 2020 and to threaten SFJ's viability as a not-for-profit organisation".

The report was authored by Terry Milewski, a former journalist with national broadcaster CBC. "MLI and Mr. Milewski stand by the article, and have every confidence that they will be successful in the litig...