The Delhi High Court on Tuesday quashed an order of a trial court summoning some documents and 2010-11 balance sheet of the Congress in the National Herald case where Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi are among the accused.
Justice P.S. Teji slammed the trial court to passing the order "in a casual manner without due application of mind and without giving opportunity to the opposite party to put up their arguments".
The trial court had allowed the plea of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramaniam Swamy, seeking balance sheet of 2010-2011 of the Congress and some documents relating to company, the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), Herald House from the Finance, Urban Development, and Corporate Affairs ministries, the Delhi Development Authority and the Registrar of Companies.
Besides the Gandhis, party leaders Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) are accused in the case filed by Swamy.
Vora, Fernandes, Dubey, Pitroda and YI had challenged the trial court's summoning documents order before the the high court contending that they were neither heard nor summoned before passing any order.
Justice Teji, while setting aside the trial court's order, said: "Non-issuance of notice to the opposite side and impugned orders being non-speaking (order where reasons for the findings are not given) and without due application of mind as per the law laid down by apex court, culminates into the impugned orders as ineffective, redundant and not sustainable in the eye of law and liable to be set aside."
"The plea of the complainant appreciating the order passed by the trial court without giving any notice or opportunity of hearing to the opposite side.. that too in a criminal case, would tantamount not only to the violation of principle of natural justice but also to the violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the judge added.
The court also said Swamy could move the trial court again with a similar plea.
Swamy had filed a complaint about "cheating" in the acquisition of AJL, which published the National Herald newspaper, by YI, "a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake". He had accused them of allegedly conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which AJL owed to the Congress.
The Delhi High Court in December 2015 dismissed the plea of the Gandhis to quash the summons issued by the trial court on Swamy's complaint.