Petitions were on Wednesday filed in the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of a lower court order summoning Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and four others in a case relating to acquiring ownership of the now-defunct daily National Herald.
The lower court order had come on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy alleging cheating and misappropriation of funds in the acquisition of the daily by Young Indian (YI), a company in which Sonia, Rahul, party treasurer Moti Lal Vora are among the directors.
A petition was filed on behalf of Vora while pleas were understood to have been filed on behalf of the other accused also. "Set aside the order dated June 26, 2014 passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate-02, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi and set aside/quash the criminal complaint filed by Respondent 2 (Swamy) pending before Metropolitan Magistrate-02, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi in so far as it relates to the present petitioners," Vora's petition said.
The trial court on June 26 had summoned Sonia, Rahul, Vora, party General Secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda to appear before it on August 7. While summoning the six as accused in the case, the trial court had held that Swamy has established a prima facie case of cheating, misappropriation of funds and criminal breach of trust against them.
Swamy had accused Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the AJL had owed to the Congress party.
The accused persons were summoned under section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property, 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC.
Vora, in his petition, has contended that Swamy's complaint was politically motivated. "The present criminal proceedings have been initiated only with intent to secure an oblique political objective by the complainant. The complainant has no connection whatsoever with the issue at hand.
"The criminal proceedings are, therefore, manifestly attended with malafide and the proceeding is maliciously instituted only with an ulterior motive for wrecking vengeance on the petitioners amongst others for narrow political objectives," the petition said. The plea also said there is "no prima facie case constituting any offence can be made out against the present petitioners as well as other accused persons".
"It is submitted that none of these parties involved have alleged any kind of misrepresentation, misappropriation or dishonest conduct of the other parties.
"In these circumstances, it is most respectfully submitted that in the interest of justice, the present criminal proceedings ought to be set aside/quashed on this ground itself," the petition said.
The petition further said "the trial court while passing the impugned order of summoning have failed to appreciate that there is no material at all to establish dishonest or fraudulent intent on the part of the accused persons."