In a setback in the National Herald case, the Delhi High Court has dismissed the pleas and directed the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to appear before a trial court on Tuesday.
On Monday, Justice Sunil Gaur of the Delhi HC set aside the pleas made by the two seeking to quash summons issued to them by a trial court, on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s complaint.
Along with the top two Congress leaders, the court also rejected the pleas of Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, and other accused Suman Dubey, leader Oscar Fernandes.
The Gandhis along with the other Congress leaders had moved the Delhi High Court objecting to a "different treatment", after the court had stayed the summons till the final disposal of the petitions.
The trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy’s complaint about “cheating” and “misappropriation” in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) AJL by Young India Ltd (YIL) which is “a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake”.
Swamy approached the court accusing Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of grabbing the assets of a public limited company by floating a private company and using Congress party funds. As per the Income Tax Act, political parties are barred from funding business operations.
Associated Journals Pvt. Ltd (AJPL) set up by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937 is the company that published the now defunct National Herald along with Navjivan and Quami Awaz newspapers and the International Weekly magazine.
Young Indian is a private company formed in the year 2002 in which Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Congress leaders Motilal Vohra and Oscar Fernandes are directors.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi together hold a 76% stake in Young Indian. The rest is held by Congress politicians Moti Lal Vohra and Oscar Fernandes (12% each). Subramaniam Swamy alleges that in 2011, the Congress Party extended a loan of 90 crores to AJPL.
This loan was apparently given to write off accumulated debts of AJPL and thereby restart the National Herald, which was closed down in 2008. When questioned about this in the past, the Congress party had said that extending the loan was part of its political dharma and for propagation of its ideology. The loan was paid off from the donation of over Rs 2000 crores, which the party received between 2004-05 and 2010-11. With the help of the loan, APJL’s debts were written off.