National Herald Case: Sonia and Rahul to appear in court on Dec 19

National Herald Case: Sonia and  Rahul to appear in court on Dec 19

 Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and others were today directed to appear in person on December 19 by a Delhi court which allowed their plea seeking exemption from personal appearance for the day in the National Herald case.

Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval and Ramesh Gupta appeared for the Gandhis and other accused and moved separate pleas seeking exemption from personal apperance for their clients for today only.

"We are very keen to come before the court," Singhvi told Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen, adding, "Please give us a date of your choice and that of the convenience of Dr Subramanian Swamy."

Swamy, who has filed the case, however, told the court that there are seven accused in the case and today's date was fixed in September itself.

"Accused number 2 (Rahul Gandhi) has left for Chennai this morning," he said.

The magistrate, however, told the defence counsel to ensure that all the accused appear before the court on the next date of hearing on December 19.

"Make sure that all the accused appear on December 19. I am giving exemption from personal appearance only for today. Don't come in the morning on December 19. You come at 3 PM," the magistrate said.

During the brief hearing in the jam-packed courtroom ,the court said, "Is the judgement of the (Delhi) High Court on the net? Can I see it."

Responding to the court's query, Swamy placed a copy of the verdict of the high court delivered yesterday before the court.

During the hearing, senior counsel Ramesh Gupta told the magistrate that accused Sam Pitroda is presently in the United States and they will try their best that he appears before the court on December 19.

To this, the court asked them to ensure that all the accused appear before it on December 19.

Rahul Gandhi today left for a visit to flood-affected areas of Chennai and its suburbs and Puducherry. Gandhi would first visit Puducherry and later Cuddalore and Chennai during the day-long visit.

The Delhi High Court had yesterday rejected the pleas of Gandhis and others for quashing of the summons against them in the case and also turned down their pleas for exemption from personal appearance in the trial court.

Along with the Gandhis, five other accused -- Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd -- had challenged the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by Swamy against them for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.

The trial court had on June 26, last year summoned all the above accused to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on Swamy's complaint.

The Congress leaders had, thereafter, on July 30, 2014, moved the high court which had stayed the summons on August 6, last year.

Thereafter, on December 15, 2014, the court had further stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.

While talking to reporters outside court, Singhvi charged that the present case is a "proxy litigation", used as a "political vendetta" by BJP to attack senior Congress persons.

He stressed that each of the accused is "extremely keen, ready and willing" to appear before the court on December 19.

"We made it clear to the magistrate today that each of the accused is extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before the court at the earliest possible date. It is our statement, not the complainant's in the court. We are only seeking exemption for today as there was no time to study the order as it came yesterday and Parliament sessions is on etc.

"But on December 19, at our request, the earliest possible date was given. All the accused, barring one, who is in USA, will certainly be present on December 19. The accused who is in USA will also try his best to be here," he said.

Singhvi charged that the present case was an outcome of political vendetta.

"This is a political vendetta and worst, the complainant Swamy is a senior and active member of BJP. The ruling party in the power is using proxy litigations to attack the senior Congress functionaries out of political malice.

"You have a series since last 18 months alone whether its Virbhadra Singh, whose case was rudely intruded upon the wedding of his child on baseless allegations... Roping in Chidambaram and his family when the raids (were) conducted were totally different and unconnected. There are several such examples.

"This (Herald case) happens to be another example in that series. We shall fight it with all our might in all legal recourse and all legal forums.

"There is not a slightest doubt in our mind... not a single ingredient of any offence has been made out. But that is for the higher court to consider," Singhvi said.

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