Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul have been asked to appear before a Delhi court on August 7 in connection with a private complaint which accused them of misappropriation of funds in a firm that published the now-defunct National Herald.
Acting on a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Minocha also issued summons to Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, general secretary Oscar Fernandes, technocrat Sam Pitroda and veteran journalist Suman Dubey.
The Congress dubbed the complaint by Swamy “revengeful witch-hunt” and said the Gandhi family would not be cowed down by such acts.
The case dates back to 2010, when the Congress acquired the newspaper which had ceased publication in 2008. The party said it wanted to revive the National Herald which was launched by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938 in Lucknow.
Swamy, a known detractor of the Congress, had alleged that the Gandhi family had acquired the defunct newspaper with an eye on the Rs 2,000 crore assets of Associated Journals Limited, which published the National Herald.
“I have found prima facie evidence against all the accused,” the judge said, asking them to appear before the court on August 7.
However, the judge added in the 20-page order, “It goes without saying that guilt of an accused is determined after trial when the burden of proof is discharged beyond reasonable doubt.”
The court also issued summonses to Young Indian (YI) Limited, the company in which all the accused are directors.
Swamy had accused Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the AJL had owed to the Congress.
“We have not received any summons so far. The Congress and its leaders will take appropriate action after taking necessary legal advice on receipt of any such summons,” Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.
Meanwhile, Swamy has also written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to examine whether Income Tax laws were violated by the Congress in its attempt to revive the defunct newspaper.