New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi have approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the summons issued to them in a matter of them misusing party funds to pay off debts accrued by the now defunct National Herald newspaper several years ago.
A lower court had on June 26 summoned Sonia and her son Rahul and three others to answer allegations that they used their leadership of the Congress Party to misuse about USD 15 million dollars of party funds for personal profit.
The Gandhis were directed to appear in court on August 7.
Yesterday, the head of the Congress party`s legal and human rights department, KC Mittal, said two separate petitions have been filed in this regard.
"Petitions have been filed. One petition has been filed, the other is being filed. So, there are two petitions separately filed, they are likely to come up for hearing on Friday (August 1)," said Mittal.
The party had received notices from the tax authority, a communication in which the recipient is asked to explain apparent irregularities in his tax declarations.
The petitioner in the case against the Gandhis and two of their colleagues is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Subramanian Swamy.
Reacting on the petitions filed, Swamy said Congress is trying to run away.
"Congress people are thieves. That is why they are running away, they`ll be whiplashed even there," he said.
Swamy had alleged misappropriation of assets worth rupees 20 billion of the National Herald newspaper. Swamy had accused Sonia and others of conspiring to cheat.
At the heart of the court case is Associated Journals Limited, publisher of three newspapers, including the National Herald, an English daily founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became independent India`s first Prime Minister.
In 2008, the company shut down with an unpaid debt of about$15 million, according to allegations in a copy of the court order.
The case accuses the Gandhis of setting up a firm called the Young Indian Company to buy the debt using Congress party funds even though Associated Journals allegedly had real estate assets worth at least $335 million, which would have cleared the debt.
Motilal Vora, a Congress party member, was managing director of Associated Journals and later became a shareholder of the Young Indian Company, according to the allegations .
Swamy alleged the Young Indian Company then owned all of the equity in Associated Journals and rented out its properties to profit its shareholders, including Rahul and Sonia, who together controlled 76 percent.