Herald case: Sonia, Rahul asked to appear on December 19

New Delhi


A court here on Tuesday asked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and others to appear on December 19 in connection with a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in the National Herald newspaper case.

Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen also granted them exemption from personal appearance on Tuesday.

The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed the plea of the Gandhis to quash the summons issued to them by a trial court on Swamy's complaint regarding the acquisition of National Herald and asked them to appear before trial court on Tuesday.

On June 26 last year, the trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy's complaint about "cheating" in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) by Young India Ltd. (YIL) - "a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake".

Appearing for the Gandhis, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that both were willing to appear but the Delhi High Court order was received late.

He moved an application to seek exemption from appearance for the Gandhis for the day.

Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, counsel for another accused Sam Pitroda, a former chairman of National Innovation Council, while seeking exemption from appearance for his client, told the court that Pitroda lived in the US and needed time to reach India.

Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, Gandhis' family friend Suman Dubey and another party leader Oscar Fernandes were also granted exemption.

Complainant Swamy opposed their plea for exemption.

During a previous hearing in the case, the trial court had said that the YIL appeared to have been "created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use" or a special purpose vehicle to acquire control over AJL assets worth Rs.2,000 crore.

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

At that time, AJL with Vora as its chairman allegedly said it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL. - IANS