National Herald case: Sonia, Rahul in Patiala House Court on 19 December

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi will appear before the Patiala House Court on 19 December to face allegations of illegally acquired property worth Rs 5,000 crore belonging to the National Herald newspaper.

Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Gandhis, had asked the Patiala House Court for another date. He said Swamy had no locus standi in the case, while no other person involved had claimed being cheated.

Meanwhile, all hell broke loose in both Houses of Parliament over what the Congress said was a political vendetta by the BJP. Hinting about a vendetta, Sonia said, “I am not afraid. I am Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law. Why should I be upset; I am not scared of anybody.” The Congress also has created an uproar over the National Herald case in the Upper House.

The party reacted with indignation to the Delhi High Court judgement ordering the leaders’ presence in a trial court, claiming “legal deficiencies” in the verdict even as the development could cast a shadow over prospects of a GST bill hanging fire in Parliament.

Earlier speaking too the media before entering the Parliament, Sonia when asked if this was a case of vendetta, said, “I leave it to you to judge.” Earlier when the Gandhis received tax notices in the case, Sonia had called it a political witch-hunt.

On 7 December, the HC refused to cancel the court summons issued to the duo stating the allegations “smacked of criminality”. The party fears the court appearance by its leaders could cast a grim shadow over prospects of a GST bill hanging fire in Parliament.

The National Herald case is based on Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy’s allegation of cheating and criminal breach of trust against the Gandhis. According to him, the Congress leaders gave a Rs 90 crore loan from tax exempted money to National Herald. They violated the law to get the newspaper illegally for a sum of Rs 50 lakh so as to catch hold of its properties in Delhi worth thousands of crores.