[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n what could turn out to be a significant development, the Supreme Court of India is likely to hear Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi and others’ petition challenging the Delhi High Court order that rejected their plea against their summoning by a trial court here in the National Herald case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
This is expected to be a bench hearing, with Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice C. Nagappan likely to hear the matter. In a detailed FAQ posted on the party web site, Congress tried to downplay this case as an internal matter as National Herald was started by Congress Party in the thirties.
Besides challenging the high court order of December 7, 2015, both the Gandhis have sought the stay of the proceedings before the trial court till their plea was decided by the top court and grant of exemption from personal appearance before the lower court.
However, they have said that they would appear before the trial court as and when “desired by the magistrate in accordance with law”.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Congress leaders have also challenged the Delhi High Court order on the grounds of its going into the merits of the case and making adverse observations. Sonia Gandhi, in her petition, has said that on “one hand, high court holds that the actions of the accused ‘smacks of criminality’, and in the same breath, goes on to hold that ‘what species of criminal offence is made out is not required to be seen at this initial stage'”.
The approach of the high court “is untenable in law. It is submitted that ‘criminality’ cannot be divorced from the offences prescribed under the Penal Code. If the ingredients of the offences alleged are not at all made out even prima facie, there cannot be any ‘criminality'”, she said in her plea.
On the question of locus of Swamy in agitating the matter, the Congress chief noted that “interestingly, a single judge (of the high court) himself raised the question of locus standi. Even before the petitioners went ahead with their arguments, the complainant was asked to assist in the matter qua the issue of locus standi”.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]S[/dropcap]ummons had been issued by the trial court on June 26, 2015 on Swamy’s complaint alleging “cheating” in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) by Young India Ltd. (YIL) – “a firm in which Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake”.
Swamy had claimed that the Gandhis, as majority shareholders of YIL, benefited from the acquisition of AJL.A
He had alleged that AJL had received an interest-free loan of Rs.90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to YIL for Rs.50 lakh.
At the time, AJL, which had Vora as its chairman, claimed that it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL.
The Congress, while challenging the summons before the high court, had contended that Swamy was a political opponent and the criminal proceedings were initiated only with an intent to secure an oblique political objective. They had contended that the complaint made by Swamy against them was only “allegations without any supporting proof”.