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Delhi HC Refuses To Quash Summons To Sonia, Rahul Gandhi in National Herald Case

The High Court also declined to grant them exemption from personal appearance before trial court in the matter

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In a crucial ruling for the Congress party in general and Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in particular, Delhi HC refused to quash lower court's summons to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case. HC also declined to grant them exemption from personal appearance before trial court in the matter.

On Subramanian Swamy's complaint, the trial court had issued summons to Sonia, her son Rahul and five others-Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and YIL. Swamy, had told the court that the loan was "illegally" given to AJL and its shareholding was "fraudulently obtained" by YIL in order to misappropriate the property of the publication.

On Friday (4 December), reserving its verdict in the pleas against summoning Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Court felt that the Congress party could have written off the loan of Rs 90.25 crore owed to it by the publishers of National Herald, instead of assigning it to a charitable company in which some of its leaders are directors.

Justice Sunil Gaur had made the observation while reserving judgement on the pleas of Congress President and the Vice President and four others against a trial court order summoning them on a cheating and breach of trust complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi were summoned by the court in June after Swamy filed a complaint accusing them of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.

In his petition, the senior BJP leader had alleged misappropriation of assets worth Rs 2000 crore of the National Herald newspaper. Swamy had also accused Sonia, Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which Young Indian obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the Associate Journal Limited had owed to the Congress party.

Congress leaders have alleged vindictiveness by the new BJP government, which took power in May after winning the national election and said that it will respond to them in court.

Interestingly, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has gone on record saying that the National Herald case against the Gandhis may come to an end if the Congress party returns the loans.

Speaking to a TV news channel, Jaitley also cleared that the Enforcement Directorate was not conducting any enquiry against the Gandhis into the matter.

Though Income Tax department has built a strong case in the National Herald matter concerning the Gandhi family, there may be no case made out by Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Minister was quoted as saying.
"The National Herald case is prima facie a very strong case. The Congress could simply return the loan and the matter could end. There is no truth to media reports of an Enforcement Directorate inquiry in the Herald case," the Finance Minister said.

Jaitley was referring to reports suggesting that Enforcement Directorate was conducting a preliminary enquiry to see if a case could be made out under stringent sections of the money laundering Act. Sources said the agency was scanning documents with Registrar of Companies to see if it could formally register a case.

The court had summoned Sonia Gandhi and her son to appear before it on August 7 in connection with the case, hence it would be interesting to see if they get any relief from the court in the case.