December,7,2015: In a blow to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Delhi High Court today dismissed their pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court tomorrow.
“Petitions are dismissed,” Justice Sunil Gaur said in his judgement while also declining another of their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the lower court.
The Gandhis and the other five accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–will have to appear in the trial court tomorrow, before which the case will come up.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi will have to appear before a court on Tuesday after the Delhi high court on Monday dismissed their pleas against summons issued in a case related to alleged irregularities in the acquisition of a daily newspaper, National Herald.
The high court also declined to grant them exemption from personal appearance before the trial court in the matter. The Congress is now likely to approach the Supreme Court.
The summoning order was passed on a petition by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had alleged cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Limited – the publisher of National Herald – by a company called Young Indian Limited, in which the Gandhis reportedly hold shares.
The Gandhis had challenged the summoning order before the HC.
The Congress party and its lawyers have repeatedly said there was no wrongful gain or loss in the transaction, rejecting Swamy’s charges that the acquisition was used to divert AJL’s commercial properties – worth over Rs 2,000 crores – for deriving rent.
Started in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru, the National Herald’s circulation and financial health steadily deteriorated over decades, leading to its closure in 2008 with a debt of Rs 90 crore on its head.
Swamy accused the Congress of loaning this money to AJL and then assigning the debt to YIL for Rs 50 lakh – a transaction that the BJP leader said amounted to cheating and a breach of trust.
But senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal has repeatedly argued that the loan was assigned to clean AJL’s balance sheet and revive the company.
Swamy, however, contended the Congress leaders betrayed the Indian government as well as various state governments by getting prime land on concessional rates on the pretext of running a publication, and instead using the same for building malls or renting them out for commercial gains.