NEW DELHI: In a big jolt to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Court on Monday rejected their pleas for quashing summons issued to them in the National Herald case by a lower court and observed that their conduct was questionable.
Justice Sunil Gaur turned down their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the trial court, where it is listed for Tuesday. The court also rejected the plea of five other accused — Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd — who had challenged the summons issued to them on a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.
“After having considered the entire case in its proper perspective, this court finds no hesitation to put it on record that the modus operandi adopted by petitioners in taking control of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) via special purpose vehicle i.e. Young India Ltd (YIL), particularly, when the main persons in Congress Party, AJL and YIL are the same, evidences a criminal intent. Whether it is cheating, criminal misappropriation or criminal breach of trust is not required to be spelt out at this nascent stage,” the court observed.
“Questionable conduct of petitioners needs to be properly examined at the charge stage to find out the truth and so, these criminal proceedings cannot be thwarted at this initial stage,” the judge said in his 27-page order. The court further said, “the ingredients of the offences alleged are not lacking and sufficient ground to proceed against petitioners certainly exists. No mala fides can be alleged against respondent-complainant nor can it be said the summoning of petitioners is an abuse of process of the court.”
It said legal jugglery of words does not and cannot persuade it to opine, at this stage, that allegations in Swamy’s complaint do not make out a prima facie case for summoning the Congress leaders. “The sum and substance of the allegations leveled against petitioners cannot be brushed aside by merely saying that at best it is a case of takeover of AJL and the remedy lies in invoking the provisions of the Company Act,” it said.
It said, “The transactions of the Congress Party... are not mere commercial transactions as these transactions legitimately attract the allegations of cheating, fraud, breach of trust, misappropriation, etc.”
Bill on Inland waterways in 2016
The Centre is working on five inland waterways projects and hopes a Bill to convert 106 rivers into waterways would be introduced and passed by Parliament during budget session next year, said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday. Speaking at the Global R&D Summit, he said the transportation of goods and passengers through waterways would bring down the cost by up to 25 per cent.