In a seeming tactical shift in their strategy, top Congress leaders – Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi – told the trial court that they are “very keen, ready and willing” to appear in the National Herald case, where they are facing allegations of criminality. The party had earlier on Monday said that they will challenge the Delhi High Court order of dismissing their pleas seeking the quashing of summons issued by the Patiala House court last year.
“We have made amply clear that each of the accused is very keen, ready and willing to come before the court at the earliest possible date,” Congress spokesperson and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi told Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen.
“Please give us a date of your choice and that of the convenience of Dr Subramanian Swamy,” Singhvi added seeking exemption from personal appearance for the day.
The Patiala House court has now directed all the accused in the case, the Gandhis and five others, to appear in person on December 19 at 3:00 PM.
“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.
Appearing for Sonia and Rahul and other accused — Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and the Young India Ltd. — senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval and Ramesh Gupta moved separate pleas seeking exemption from personal appearance.
While, Rahul Gandhi is on a visit to Chennai and Pondicherry to meet flood victims and to take the stock of the relief and rehabilitation Tuesday morning, senior counsel Ramesh Gupta told the magistrate that accused Sam Pitroda is presently in the United States.
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi and senior leaders Moti Lal Vohra and Oscar Fernandez attended the Parliament House on Tuesday, where both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha witnessed angry protest by the Congress MPs throughout the day with a very little business transacted, only in Lok Sabha.
The issue relates to the criminal complaint lodged by a senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald by the charitable firm, Young India.
The trial court had on June 26, 2014 issued summons seeking personal appearance of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders. Soon after the Patiala House trial court order, they had moved the Delhi High Court on July 30, 2014, which stayed the summons till the final disposal of the matter.
And on Monday, in a big set-back to the Congress party, Delhi High Court rejected their petitions, in effect upholding the summons to appear before the trial court in National Herald case.