4:26 am - Saturday November 7, 2015

Delhi court summons sonia, rahul in national herald case

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NEW DELHI: A local Delhi court has ordered Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi to appear before it in a case alleging misappropriation of funds, the first time that this generation of the Congress’ first family have been summoned in this manner before an Indian court and at a time it is nursing wounds from its worst ever electoral debacle.

Metropolitan magistrate Gomati Monacha of the Patiala House courts on Thursday said there was “prima facie” evidence to summon the two as accused in a case filed by BJP leader and long-time Gandhi family detractor Subramanian Swamy in which he had alleged that the Congress’ first family had used party funds to grab funds and properties of National Herald, a now defunct party mouthpiece.

The court also summoned Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes and Gandhi family friend Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda. All of them will have to appear in court on Aug 7. The National Herald was established by Nehru in 1938 and shut shop in 2008. It was later taken over in 2010. Swamy claims that National Herald was built through state subsidies and granted a huge land largesse, which was worth over Rs 2,000 cr.

He alleged in his petition that both Sonia and Rahul, who together have a 76% stake in a company that took over the debts of National Herald publisher Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), used party funds to acquire ownership over these properties.
He accuses the two of using party funds worth Rs 50 lakhs to acquire the right to recover Rs 90 crores debt owed to the Congress by AJL.

The company that took over the debts is called Young Indian and was incorporated in 2010.
“From the complaint and evidence led so far, it appears that Young Indian was in fact created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use or as a special purpose vehicle for acquiring control over Rs2000 cr worth of assets of The AJL.
Since all the accused persons have allegedly acted in consortium with each other to achieve the nefarious design, there are sufficient grounds for proceeding against all of them,” the court order said.

Saying that the complainant has established a prima facie case against the “accused” on multiple counts, it ordered that Sonia, Rahul, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda be summoned on August 7.

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