Court rejects Swamy's plea for papers in National Herald case

Court rejects Swamy's plea for papers in National Herald case
In a relief to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, a Delhi court today rejected "as fishing inquiry" a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction to Congress party and Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) to produce certain records related to the National Herald case.

The court said that Swamy "seemed to enlarge the scope of present proceedings".

Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen, meanwhile, gave last opportunity to Swamy to submit the list of his witnesses in the case lodged against Gandhis and some other Congress leaders and fixed the matter on February 10 for hearing arguments on framing of charges.

"At the very outset, this court must observe that by using the terms 'verify'/'see'/'investigate' (in application) the complainant (Swamy) admits that he himself is not aware of the contents of the said documents.

"In these circumstances, the prayer of the complainant is nothing but a fishing enquiry which is not permitted under the law. This court feels that by seeking the above documents the complainant seems to enlarge scope of present proceedings," the court said.

The court also said that most of the documents sought "do not seem relevant in view of context of present allegations" and "do not seem to be connected to the facts required to be proved by the complainant".

It said that a few documents which seemed to be relevant, could not be ordered to be summoned as those were "to be contemporaneous with the examination of prosecution witnesses. In the present case the complainant has not even placed a list of witnesses, whom he proposes to examine in pre-charge stage. So the prayer made by the complainant for summoning the documents from Congress and AJL has to be rejected".

Swamy, in his private criminal complaint, has accused Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which AJL owed to the Congress.

Swamy has sought documents relating to a loan given by the Congress to the AJL, the holding firm of the National Herald, saying these were necessary for the purposes of trial in the case.
 
Besides the Gandhis, other accused-Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda-have denied the allegations levelled against them.

On the issue of plea seeking documents from the Income Tax Department, the court said they were irrelevant to the proceedings and hence, could not be summoned.

He also sought certain documents from the Registrar of Companies (ROC) which were filed by the AJL and papers from the Department of Income Tax (DoT) in relation to income tax returns filed by AJL.

The documents sought from AJL included "authorisation by the members of the AJL to borrow monies in excess of its paid- up capital and free reserve of AJL, relevant extracts from the books of accounts of AJL during the period of loan and documents by which the loan was converted into shares in the books of AJL."

Swamy also sought summoning documents from "the Congress party reflecting the loans given to AJL and documents of the party in the year in which the loan was written off."

He also sought summoning of certain "documents filed by AJL with ROC and certain papers from the DoT."

The application was filed by Swamy after the Delhi High Court set aside trial court's orders summoning documents and the balance sheet of the Congress party for 2010-2011, holding that they were passed without hearing the opposite side and that the lower court orders violated the "principle of natural justice" and right to life and liberty under the Constitution.

The court had on June 26, 2014, summoned Sonia, Rahul, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as accused in the case besides YI.

It had on December 19, 2015, granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey, who had appeared before it pursuant to summons. Pitroda was granted bail on February 20 when he had appeared in the court.

Sonia, Rahul, Vora (AICC Treasurer), Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned for alleged offences under section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

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