Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi along with other Congress leaders and office bearers named in the National Herald have been granted bail by the trial court. The two along with Congress leaders Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandez and family loyalist Suman Dubey appeared before Patiala House at 3:00 PM on Saturday in a case where they are facing allegations of alleged wrongful acquisition of the National Herald properties. The complaint in a case has been filed by senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
“Today we had appeared before the court with a clean conscience. We did what any law-abiding citizen should do…. I have no doubt that the truth will come out,”Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said at the AICC headquarters after returning from Patiala House court.
“These people have been trying for long to target us. They will not succeed…. Nobody is going to be scared from it. We will continue our fight,” Sonia added further.
“I respect law… Modiji is falsely accusing us and expecting us buckle down. We will keep on fighting for the poor, for the weak. We will not buckle down,” Rahul Gandhi said after his mother spoke.
Their appearance in court was necessitated after the Delhi High Court had rejected their petition seeking quashing of trail court summons on December 7.
It was a very short hearing where no one apart from those connected with the case were allowed. Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi too was inside the court. She furnished the bail bond for his brother Rahul, while senior Congress leader AK Antony furnished bond for Sonia Gandhi.
“The accused sought bail and got it. No exemption from appearance sought. No conditions imposed for bail except for furnishing of surety,” their lawyer and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told the press adding “Swamy’s plea for conditions to restrict the accused for travel abroad rejected”.
The next hearing for the case will take place on February 20, 2016.
Last week the two leaders had said they were “more than willing to appear in court”.
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.
Besides the Gandhis, five other accused — Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd. — were also issued the summons order by the trial court.
Ever since the Delhi High Court verdict, the Congress party has accused the government of ‘political vendetta’. The Gandhis decided not to challenge the High Court ruling in the apex court but make a personal appearance in the trial court.
“One hundred per cent political vendetta…. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics. Pure 100 per cent vendetta,” Rahul Gandhi had said directly accusing Prime Minister Modi.
Post the Delhi HC ruling, angry Congress members had raised their protest in both Houses of Parliament, leading to several rounds to adjournments in the on-going Winter session.
Barely 24 hours before they were due to appear in the court, the principal opposition party once again alleged a “witch hunt” by the incumbent BJP-led NDA government against all political opponents including the Congress leadership.
“The Modi government cannot suppress Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi or the Congress party from continuing to raise the voice of the people,” said Congress spokesperson Surjewala.
(With inputs from PTI)