SC refuses to quash complaint against Gandhis in Herald case

SC refuses to quash complaint against Gandhis in Herald case

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Gandhis’ plea seeking quashing of criminal prosecution in the National Herald case, but exempted them from appearing before the trial court.

A bench of Justices J S Khehar and C Nagappan also directed for expunction of certain “firm conclusions” recorded by the Delhi High Court in its December 7 order. 

The high court had rejected Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s plea for quashing the complaint and observed that the accused had a “questionable conduct,” “smacking of criminality” in the case having “a fraudulent flavour.”

The bench also allowed a plea by Congress leaders, including Motilal Vora, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey, seeking exemption from personal appearance before the magistrate on February 20 and on future dates, but clarified that they can be summoned as and when required. “Their presence during hearing before the trial court would create more inconvenience than convenience and accordingly they shall be exempted from personal appearance,” the bench said. The Congress claimed it would now have an opportunity to expose the false and malicious complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

Appearing for the Congress leaders, senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and R S Cheema contended before the court that there cannot be any public interest in a case with charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust. 

They claimed Swamy had no locus as he is neither a victim nor a deceived person. They also submitted that nobody with links to the Associated Journal Limited–the publisher of National Herald–or the Congress has complained.

Advising the counsel to raise all issues before the magistrate, the bench observed that the apex court had very limited scope to interject at this stage.

“Let there be a fair trial. You will have ample opportunities to say all this at the stage of charge framing. You cannot come here directly. We hereby permit the petitioners to raise all the issues that are open to them at the stage of framing of the charges,” the bench stated.

“Insofar as the determination rendered by the high court, in rejecting the prayer for quashing the proceedings against the petitioners is concerned, we find no justification in interfering therewith,” the bench said.

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