In a major blow to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and five others, the Delhi High Court on Monday refused to quash summons issued to them in the National Herald case.
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 on Tuesday. The summons were issued on a criminal complaint lodged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct National Herald.
However, Congress spokesperson and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “We will move the Supreme Court tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. It is a vacuous case.”
The Congress legal team is working hard to seek exemption for the mother-son duo, which, leaders fear, will blunt the party’s attack on the Opposition in the middle of the Parliament session.
Justice Sunil Gaur while dismissing their petitions also declined their request for exemption from personal appearance in the lower court or extension of the August 6, 2014 interim order by which the summons were stayed.
The court, in its judgement, has also questioned the need for extending interest-free loan to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) the publishers of National Herald. “Where was need to extend interest-free loan,” it said.
The trial court had on June 26 last year summoned all the above accused to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on Swamy’s complaint.
While the mother-son duo had moved the HC in July 2014, the HC had on December 15 last year stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.
Contending that no cheating has taken place in the case, Singhvi also said that the control of Associated Journals, which was bringing National Herald, has been passed to a new Company Young India set up under Section 25 of the Companies Act. Gandhis are directors of Young Indian and own 76% stake in it. The remaining shares are owned by Motilal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda.
Noting that office bearers of the Congress were in charge of the National Herald earlier and they remained the same in the new company, he wondered as to where had the cheating taken place as alleged.