NEW DELHI: Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul today sought and got bail in the National Herald case after a local court rejected complainant Subramanian Swamy's opposition to the relief for them on the ground they are influential and can flee the country.
Amidst media hype and hoopla and tight security, Sonia and Rahul and three other accused Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey appeared before Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen in the Patiala House courts complex in the heart of the capital in pursuance of the summons issued to them on Dec 8.
The case is based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy against them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
"The accused are reputed persons having deep political grassroots and there is no apprehension that they will flee," the Magistrate noted while granting them bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs.50,000 each and one surety. He posted the case for further hearing at 2 PM on February 20, next year.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood surety for Sonia, while Priyanka Vadra gave surety for her brother Rahul.
A K Antony stood surety for Fernandes and Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ajay Maken for the other accused. Sam Pitroda, yet another accused, was granted exemption from personal appearance today on medical grounds.
In his reaction, Swamy said all their claims that they would not seek bail proved false. "They said they will not take bail. What happened now," he told reporters.
Earlier, Manmohan Singh and a host of Congress leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Shiela Dikshit, Ashwini Kumar, Meira Kumar arrived at the court complex shortly before the hearing was to commence at 3 PM.
A smiling Sonia followed closely by Rahul emerged out of the court after 15 minutes of proceedings.
As the proceedings began Swamy opposed the bail saying the accused including Sonia and Rahul are "highly influential" people and can flee the country and that their passports should be seized and travel restrictions be imposed on them.
A battery of Congress lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi told the court that these are people who have deep roots in society and they hold high office and do not have any previous charge against them.
The summons were issued by the court on Dec 8 after the Delhi High Court the previous day had refused to quash the summons issued to them earlier to appear as accused.
Both Sibal and Singhvi told reporters after the proceedings that the court rejected Swamy's plea and gave bail to the leaders.
"It is most unfortunate that Swamy sought to impose conditions including restrictions on travel abroad but the court granted unconditional bail," Singhvi said.
"I don't see the slightest reason for dissatisfaction with the court order," he added.
Rejecting Congress criticism that he was doing vendetta politics at the behest of Congress, Swamy said look at the evidence in the case and not vendetta.
"I have so many friends (in the BJP). I am a Jan Sanghi. I know them (BJP leaders) personally. I have not taken an appointment with the prime minister and spoken to him at all about the case," he told reporters.
Ram Madhav also termed the relations between India and China "strong, but difficult" due to several issues, but added that leaderships in both the countries, in the past and the present, have been working to improve it.
Le said both China and India have a unique role to play in the growth and development of the Asia-Pacific region at a time "when the world is confronting sluggish world economy".
Favouring greater engagement between the two nations, Le said both the countries have cooperated at various fora including the the Paris Climate Change Conference, G20 and BRICS. He said the two nations have been linked with history, culture.
"Our sheer development matters to the world. Our cooperation makes the difference," Le said.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India Initiative', Le said, "It will become a sheer magnate for trade and industries."
Le also rued over the fact that the South China Sea issue was becoming a major focal point when there were other compelling concerns like terrorism and Syrian crises threatening the global security.
The Nansha islands also called Spratly Islands are also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam. China claims most of the South China Sea as its own which is hotly contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan and Taiwan.
Apart from its claims, China has been building artificial islands in the disputed sea, a move which has been vehemently opposed by the United States.
The US too has been supporting other countries' claims. China has often registered strong opposition to US's approach in this issue.
Le said, "We are ready to conduct fresh negotiations to resolve the issue. We have also signed on the Declaration of Conduct.
"As I see it, it is wrong to say it as South China Sea dispute. There has never been a problem of freedom of navigation. Most of the world trade happens through the South China Sea. Eight per cent of our exports and 40 per cent of our exports happens through the South China Sea," he said.
Le said amidst chaos and change, it is important to step up cooperation among the international community. All family members are equal and should work with mutual respect for each other. In an apparent jibe at the US, he said, "Gone are the days when big power would dominate everything."
Rajya Sabha MP and former diplomat Pavan Varma moderated the session.
Former Union Minister Manish Tewari said the Asia Pacific Region is undoubtedly viable "economically vibrant" but remains strategically remains fairly "fragile".