National Herald case: Sonia says summons ‘illegal’

New Delhi, March 24:

Congress president Sonia Gandhi told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that the summons issued against her by the trial court in connection with the acquisition of the Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) by the Young Indian Ltd. (YIL) was illegal.

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi

Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Gandhi, sought to quash the proceedings initiated by a lower court here against her, party vice president Rahul Gandhi and four others.

Sibal told Justice Sunil Gaur that not a single person was cheated during the acquisition of the AJL, the publisher of the now defunct National Herald newspaper, by the YIL.

Sibal said the trial court order summoning Gandhi was “full of illegality”.

He said that due to the emotional attachment with the AJL, as it was supported by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi during the Quit India movement, the Congress helped it by issuing loans amounting to Rs.90 crore over a period of 50 years.

He said there was no illegality in the YIL taking over the AJL as per the Companies Act.

Apart from the Gandhis, Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, family friend Suman Dubey, and Oscar Fernandes had moved the high court, seeking to quash the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

The high court had suspended the criminal proceedings in a trial court.

Swamy claimed that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, as majority shareholders of the YIL, benefited from the acquisition of the AJL.

Swamy also alleged that the AJL had received an interest-free loan of Rs.90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to the YIL for Rs.50 lakh.

At the time, the AJL, which had Vora as its chairman, claimed that it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to the YIL.

The trial court on June 26, 2014, issued summons to the Congress leaders on a complaint by Swamy, who alleged cheating in the acquisition of the AJL by the YIL – “a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38-percent stake”.

Filing the plea, the Congress leaders said Swamy was a political opponent and the criminal proceedings were initiated only with an intent to secure an oblique political objective. IANS

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