Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and other accused in the National Herald case today told a Delhi court that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy should first satisfy it about the relevance of documents which were ordered to be summoned from various ministries in the matter.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Gandhis, told Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen that complainant Swamy will have to show as to how these documents summoned by the court on January 11 were relevant to the case.
Sibal told the court that the order has been challenged before the high court by Motilal Vora, an accused in the case, and the high court has issued a notice to Swamy on the plea.
The lawyers representing the accused also told the court that these documents should be kept in a sealed cover till the issue is decided by the high court. Opposing the contentions, Swamy told the court that the documents, which were placed before the magistrate today, were related to Associated Journal Ltd (AJL) and they were required for the case. During the hearing, in which media was not allowed, Swamy argued that although the high court has issued a notice on Vora’s plea it had not stayed the order summoning documents from these ministries.
The magistrate, after hearing the submissions, reserved his order on the plea moved by the accused persons for 4 pm today. The court granted bail to co-accused Sam Pitroda, who appeared before it today, on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of the like amount. The Gandhis and other three accused — Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey — were today granted exemption from personal appearance by the court as per the Supreme Court’s February 12 order. The magistrate has now fixed the matter for March 21 considering that the petition filed before the high court is likely to be heard on March 15.
The court had on January 11 allowed Swamy’s plea seeking summoning of documents from the Ministries of Finance, Urban Development and Corporate Affairs, Income Tax Department and other agencies in the case. The court had on December 19, 2015, granted bail to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey, who had appeared before pursuant to the summons issued earlier.
The case is based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy against them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust. The Supreme Court had last week granted exemption to Sonia Gandhi from personal appearance in the trial court and also expunged some observations of the high court but refused to interfere with criminal proceedings before the lower court.
The apex court, while allowing the plea of Gandhis, had also said it would be open to the magistrate at any stage to seek their personal appearance, as and when required. Sonia, Rahul, Vora (AICC Treasurer), Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda 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.
The trial court had on June 26, 2014 asked them to appear before it on August 7, 2014 but the order was stayed on August 6, 2014 by the Delhi High Court which on December 7, last year vacated the stay by rejecting the plea to quash the complaint and the summons. On December 15, 2014, the high court had further stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions. Along with the Gandhis, five other accused — Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vora, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd — had challenged the summons issued to them by trial court on Swamy’s complaint.