National Herald case: Sonia, Rahul Gandhi & two others move SC

Rahul & Sonia Gandhi
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi today moved the Supreme Court challenging the December 7 last year Delhi High Court order refusing to quash summons issued to them in the National Herald case.

Besides Gandhis, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda have also approached the apex court against the High Court verdict.

The High Court had on December 7, 2015 not only refused to quash the summons issued to the Congress leaders, but had also made scathing observations on their "questionable conduct" regarding how they took control of the publication.

Subsequently, the Gandhis and others had appeared before a Patiala House court on December 19 last year when they were also granted bail, with the magistrate observing that they had deep political roots and there was no apprehension that they would flee.

The magisterial court then fixed the matter for further hearing on February 20 when they will have to appear again unless the apex court grants them any interim relief.

Earlier, the High Court, while refusing to quash summons against them, had said, "Questionable conduct of petitioners needs to be properly examined at the charge stage to find out the truth and so, these criminal proceedings cannot be thwarted at this initial stage."

Along with the Gandhis, five other accused--Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd--had challenged the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against them for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.

Sonia, Rahul, Vora (AICC Treasurer), Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned under sections 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

The trial court had on June 26, 2014 asked them to appear before it on August 7, 2014 but the order was stayed on August 6 by the Delhi High Court which on December 7, 2015 vacated the stay by rejecting plea to quash the complaint and summons.

According to Swamy's complaint, all of them were directors of Young Indian Ltd (YI), a company that was incorporated in 2010 and which took over the "debt" of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald.

Swamy had accused Sonia, Rahul and others of 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 the AJL had owed to the Congress party.

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