New Delhi: The Supreme Court said that proceedings in the National Herald case against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi and three others will continue in the trial court. However, the court made some serious observations on the trial against the Gandhis in the National Herald case.
A bench of Justices JS Khehar and C Nagappan said that the Delhi High Court drawing conclusions on the criminality aspects of the case before considering the evidence can impact the trial.
The SC – after seeking complainant Subramanian Swamy's consent – ordered that the controversial parts of the HC order be expunged from the records.
"We are of the view that it was not open for the high court to record the findings conclusively. And the same would have been left to the trial court to record after recording of evidence. We hereby direct expunging of all inferences, findings and observations arrived by high court on various factual aspects of the matter," the bench said.
However, the bench said it affirms the views of the high court and reiterates that Gandhis and other accused can raise all their pleas and issues at the stage of framing of charges before the trial court.
"Accordingly, we permit petitioners to raise all the issues at the stage of framing of charges," the bench said.
The Gandhis, Motilal Vora, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey were also granted exemption from personal appearance in the case before the trial court which is scheduled to take up the matter on February 20. However, it came with a rider with the court saying that it would be open for the Magistrate at any stage to seek their personal appearance as and when required.
“The Gandhis are people of eminence and they are not running away,” the court said.
The accused Congress brass has asked the top court to stay the December 7, 2015 order of the Delhi High Court.
The High Court had not only refused their request to stay the summons of the trial court but also went on to brand the case as “one of its kind where the probity of the legendary Congress party is under scanner.”