National Herald case: Congress 'surprised' at HC order asking Sonia, Rahul to appear before court

The Congress said that they were surprised at Delhi High Court order dismissing pleas of Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case.

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New Delhi: The Congress said on Monday that they were surprised at Delhi High Court order dismissing pleas of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court tomorrow.

Addressing the press in the national capital, Congress' Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that they would the Supreme Court challenging the order as there was sufficient ground to do so.

He added that the order 'surprised' them and maintained that there was no illegality involved.

Singhvi insisted that the order was legally was unsustainable.

"We intend to not only challenge it on all legal recourses available at the appropriate forum - which I am not going into detail as the matter is sub judice - and we intend to seek a continuation of the exemption and stay, which has been continued for over a year when the matter was pending in the high court," said Singhvi, who is also a renowned advocate.

Divulging the Congress' stand Singhvi said, "All the assets of National Herald, including the newspaper, remain unchanged. It remained with the Associated Journals. However, the owner of Associated Journal changed from the Congress Party to a Section 25 company called Young India. The controllers of the Congress Party would be president, vice-president, office bearers etc, while the trustees of the controllers of the Section 25 Company would be the same. So, how does that become a cheating case we fail to understand, and which is the challenge we are going to mount, which is the challenge which led to a stay for over one year," as per ANI.

He further contended, "Young India, which is the person that now controls the share holdings of the Associated Journals, which in turn controls National Herald, which is a Section 25 Company, and under the law, a Section 25 Company can distribute no perks, no dividends, no benefits to its directors or share holders of any kind."

"Not a single person of the Congress Party or Section 25 Company Young India has even complained of cheating and no members claimed to have been cheated, but a person with no locus standi Subramanian Swamy, who himself is not being cheated, alleged that the offence of cheating has occurred. So, we will be raising the issue of locus standi in a big way," Singhvi added.

On the other hand, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told ANI, "INC does not view this as a setback but as culmination of one set of a judicial process. We will challenge the decision."

The Gandhis and the other five accused - Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd - will have to appear in the trial court tomorrow, before which the case will come up.

"Petitions are dismissed," Justice Sunil Gaur said in his judgement while also declining another of their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the lower court, as per PTI.

It also refused to extend the August 6, 2014 interim order by which the summons were stayed.

"No," Justice Gaur said in response to oral pleas by senior advocate Harin Raval, appearing for the accused, that either an exemption from personal appearance be granted or the August 6, 2014 order staying the summons be extended.

The court, in its judgement, has also questioned the need for extending interest-free loan to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) the publishers of National Herald. "Where was need to extend interest free loan," it said.

The trial court had on June 26 last year summoned all the above accused to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on Swamy's complaint.

The Congress leaders had, thereafter, on July 30, 2014, moved the high court which had stayed the summons on August 6 last year.

Thereafter, on December 15, 2014, the court had stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.

The summons were issued on a criminal complaint lodged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.

(With Agency inputs)

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