NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Saturday granted exemption from personal appearance to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and three other accused in the National Herald case, following a Supreme Court directive. Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen also granted bail to co-accused Sam Pitroda, who appeared before court on Saturday, on a personal bond of `50,000 and a like amount in surety. Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge stood surety for Pitroda.
Meanwhile, the court directed that the documents summoned from the Ministries of Finance, Urban Development and Corporate Affairs, Income Tax Department and other agencies in the National Herald case would be kept in a sealed cover till further orders.
The direction came as Sonia, Rahul and the other accused told the court that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, the complainant in the case, should first satisfy them about the relevance of the documents ordered to be summoned, as he had said he would tell the court about it.
The Magistrate observed, “Since the High Court is seized of the petition challenging the order dated January 11, it would be appropriate that photocopies of the records produced today by the witnesses be retained in a sealed cover till further orders. The records should be duly paginated before being sealed,” the magistrate said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Gandhis, told the court that Swamy would have to show how these documents summoned by the court on January 11 were relevant to the case. He 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. Opposing the contentions, Swamy told the court the documents were related to the Associated Journal Ltd and were required for the case. He argued that although the high court had issued notice on Vora’s plea, it had not stayed the order summoning documents from these ministries. The magistrate has now fixed the matter for March 21 as the petition in the high court is likely to be heard on March 15.