NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have to appear in a Delhi court, as early as tomorrow, to face allegations that they illegally acquired property worth crores belonging to the National Herald newspaper.
The Delhi High Court today dismissed the petition of the two top Congress leaders asking that a lower court summons to them be cancelled.
“We will move the Supreme Court tomorrow morning. It is a political case,” said Congress spokesperson and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The Congress legal team is working to stop the court appearance, which, leaders fear, will blunt the party’s attack on the opposition in the middle of the Parliament session.
The case is based on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s allegation of cheating and criminal breach of trust against senior Congress leaders including the Gandhis.
“It is an open and shut case. They will have to face charges and then have to go to jail,” Mr Swamy said.
He alleges that the Congress leaders gave a 90 crore loan out of tax exempted money to National Herald and broke the law to acquire it for just 50 lakh rupees with the aim of grabbing its properties in Delhi.
In August last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said: “Prime facie there is a strong case.”
The newspaper set up in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru played a prominent role in promoting nationalist sentiment before India’s independence in 1947. The publication was dogged by bad management, poor circulation and falling revenue, and Sonia Gandhi decided to close it down in 2008.
The Congress Party has denied all charges. They also maintain that they gave a loan of 90 crores to the paper because it was nationalistic and it suited the objectives of the party.
When the Gandhis received tax notices in the case, Sonia Gandhi had called it political witch-hunt.