New Delhi: The criminal proceedings before a trial court against Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others will remain stayed till September 3 in a case relating to acquiring ownership of National Herald daily, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said.
"The stay on proceedings shall continue till September 3. The order is applicable on those only who have moved the court," Justice V P Vaish said.
Besides Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Congress Treasurer Moti Lal Vora, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey have moved the High Court against the trial court order summoning them in the case.
Sam Pitroda, who is yet to be served with the summons, has not filed a plea in the high court. Meanwhile, senior advocate R S Cheema started advancing arguments on behalf of Dubey and said the Indian National Congress (INC) had undertaken "transparent" and "well- intentioned" steps to revive the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) which had been publishing newspapers `National Herald` in English, "Navjivan" in Hindi and "Quami Awaz" in Urdu.
"There were transparent and well-intentioned steps taken with the view to reviving the newspaper," he said.
No statement that somebody has been defrauded was filed in support of the complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, he said.
"The complaint has no allegation as to when was the loan given and under what circumstances it was given. It is factually incorrect and calculated deliberate allegation," Cheema said, adding the process has been wrongly issued by the lower court in the case.
The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would start on September 3. The Congress leaders have challenged a lower court`s summoning orders against them on a complaint of Swamy alleging cheating and misappropriation of funds in the acquisition of the daily by Young Indian (YI).
Besides the Gandhis, Vora is among the directors of Young India which were recently given almost 99 per cent ordinary shares of the Associated Journals Limited (AJL).
Earlier, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress President, had sought quashing of the trial court proceedings, saying "every finding of the magistrate, on every point, is erroneous.
"This is the most unfortunate proceedings against a party which is seeking to revive a newspaper which is associated with the Congress party for over 80 years. Courts must be extremely careful in scrutinising such matters", he said.
Swamy, however, had opposed the stay of the trial saying that they should have brought up these allegations in the trial court and now the whole process would be stalled.
While summoning the six as accused in the case, the trial court had held that Swamy has established a prima facie case of cheating, misappropriation of funds and criminal breach of trust against them.
The accused persons 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.