New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi were on Tuesday ordered by a court here to appear before it on December 19 in connection with BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's complaint in the National Herald case.
The issue rocked Parliament and led to verbal clashes between the Congress and the BJP.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha faced repeated disruptions, and were eventually adjourned for the day, as Congress members protested "political vendetta". Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hit back at the Congress, saying the National Herald case was a matter of serious corruption and the government had nothing to do with the matter.
Sonia Gandhi, in a combative mode, indicated the Congress was determined to fight the issue legally and politically.
"Why should I be scared of anyone? I am (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law. I am not scared of anyone," she said.
Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, cried "political vendetta".
"Let them do what they want. They can do whatever they want to. I am not going to budge one inch. The same questions I am asking the Prime Minister (Modi) or the government, I am going to continue asking them," Rahul told reporters while on a visit to Tamil Nadu to review the post-floods situation there.
"This is the way the government functions. They think they can do this kind of vendetta politics and stop me from asking questions. This is not going to happen. I am going to keep posing questions, keep pressure on the government," he said.
Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi held a press conference in the afternoon and said there was no illegality done by party leaders and the party fight the case will all its might.
"We will make the people realise that they made a mistake by electing Narendra Modi as prime minister," Sibal said.
Singhvi, who appeared for Gandhis in the case before metropolitan magistrate in the morning, said he had told the court that "the accused" were willing to appear at the earliest date.
Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen granted the Gandhis and others exemption from personal appearance on Tuesday.
The Delhi High Court had on Monday dismissed the plea of the Gandhis to quash the summons issued to them by a trial court on Swamy's complaint regarding the acquisition of National Herald and asked them to appear before trial court on Tuesday.
On June 26 last year, the trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy's complaint about "cheating" in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by Young India Ltd (YIL) - "a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake".
Singhvi told the court that the Gandhis were willing to appear but the Delhi High Court order was received late.
Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, counsel for another accused Sam Pitroda, a former chairman of National Innovation Council, told the court that Pitroda lived in the US and needed time to reach India.
Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, Gandhis' family friend Suman Dubey and another party leader Oscar Fernandes were also granted exemption.
Swamy had alleged that the AJL received an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore from the Congress and the party transferred the debt to YIL for Rs 50 lakh. At that time, AJL with Vora as its chairman allegedly said it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL.
(With IANS inputs)