Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and others Tuesday contended in the Delhi High Court that a plea by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy seeking to lead his evidence before the trial court in the National Herald case, is “misconceived and premature”.
Swamy has moved the high court against a trial court order of February 11 declining, for now, his plea to lead his evidence to prosecute the Gandhis and the other accused in the case.
Gandhis urged the high court that Swamy was not entitled to any relief and his plea should be dismissed with costs as the trial court order does not go into merits of his plea and it has simply deferred the issue of considering to summon his witnesses and documents till his recording of evidence is completed. In pursuance to the high court’s February 22 order, replies were filed on behalf of Gandhis, AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian (YI) on Swamy's plea. They are accused in the National Herald cheating case.
The high court has now listed the matter for hearing final arguments.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait noted that the pleadings are complete in the case and said, “renotify at the end of the board for final arguments on July 30.” The Congress leaders were represented through senior advocate R S Cheema and Tarannum Cheema.
The trial court had said that Swamy's application under section 244 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to lead evidence would be considered after his examination in the case was over.
In their replies to the plea, the Congress leaders said, “the present petition is misconceived and premature. The impugned order (of trial court) does not in any manner go into the merits of the application preferred by the petitioner (Swamy) and simply the consideration on the issue of summoning witnesses and documents is deferred till the evidence of the petitioner is concluded.” It said as such the application of Swamy has not been adjudicated upon and the impugned order is in the nature of interim order.
“The applicant has not come to this court by stating all the facts. The opportunity to file an application for summoning witnesses has been provided to the petitioner time and again at the appropriate stage,” the replies said.
Swamy told the court that the pleadings are complete and he has also filed his rejoinder.
The high court had on February 22 issued notice on Swamy's plea and had stayed the trial court proceedings in the case till then.
Swamy has sought summoning of certain witnesses, including the secretary-general (registry officer) of the Supreme Court, a deputy land and development officer, and a deputy commissioner of Income Tax, and also directions to them to prove certain documents which are part of the case.
In a private criminal complaint in the trial court, the BJP leader had accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying only Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Ltd, owner of National Herald, owed to the Congress.
All the seven accused - the Gandhis, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and YI - had denied the allegations.
Proceedings against Vora abated subsequent to his death, while the others were summoned by the trial court in 2014 for the alleged offences of misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust and cheating, read with criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code.