The much-awaited cross-examination of petitioner BJP leader Subramanian Swamy by accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s advocates turned out to be a damp squib on Monday. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were represented by veteran lawyer R S Cheema who spent close to two hours on the first day of crossing on February 4, concentrated on a trivial issue whether Swamy said the closure of National Herald newspaper was a permanent one or not. He also kept asking Swamy on whether the closure in 2008 was meant to acquire the properties of the publishing company Associated Journal Limited (AJL) by Sonia and Rahul.
During his cross, Swamy also brought out the Urban Development Ministry’s finding that there is no media activity and printing, leading to the eviction of AJL and Young Indian from the Herald House. Sensing danger, the Congress lawyer did not ask any further questions.
Many expected the cross-examination of Swamy to be a fiery exchange of questions and answers but it turned out to be a low key affair as veteran lawyer Cheema kept to low profile questions. Being an expert in law, Swamy also kept his cool by giving matter-of-fact replies without elaborating or provoking the accused Congress leader’s lawyer. The case was posted to next date for continuation of crossing on February 23. All the seven accused persons’ lawyers will cross Swamy, who sought for day-to-day hearings from February 23 onwards, which is the Congress leaders may not want.
After the crossing Swamy tweeted that most questions posed by Sonia and Rahul’s lawyer were trivial ones:
My cross examination in NH case began today . Next date in Feb 23 rd I will post the verbatim record so that media and Congi don’t bluff. Most question trivial and not commission of the crime
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) February 4, 2019
While the lawyer reiterated on how Swamy affirmed that National Herald newspaper was shut down permanently, Swamy replied that he relied on ‘The Pioneer’ newspaper’s report by J Gopikrishnan, who relied on Rahul Gandhi’s email to him that there was no intention to re-launch the National Herald newspaper.
Swamy: Never said publication of NH was "stopped for all times to come". I said AJL was discontinuing NH. I relied on witness J.Gopikrishnan who relied on an email sent by Rahul Gandhi. #NationalHerald #SubramanianSwamy@RahulGandhi @Swamy39@INCIndia @sampitroda
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 4, 2019
Congress lawyers were vehemently objecting to the submission of Rahul Gandhi’s email to journalist J Gopikrishnan while Swamy’s was reiterating this as proof during his evidence providing.
The fact is that till date, National Herald is not yet re-launched as a daily newspaper. Only after the High Court and Supreme Court directed Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to appear before the trial court did the Congress leaders launch an online edition in late 2016. In late 2017, they occasionally published a weekly paper.
During his cross, Swamy also brought out the Urban Development Ministry’s finding that there is no media activity and printing, leading to the eviction of AJL and Young Indian from the Herald House. Sensing danger, the Congress lawyer did not ask any further questions. The Congress lawyers did not ponder much on the Income Tax findings, though Swamy tried to bring the matter during his replies.
Legal experts say Congress leaders wanted to stretch the crossing of Swamy and are expected to object to Swamy’s demand for daily crossing. The entire transcripts of crossing of Subramanian Swamy are available at Bar & Bench website.
 Subramanian Swamy appears for Cross Examination in National Herald Case – Feb 4, 2019, BarAndBench.com