National Herald case: Accused Congress leaders challenge trial court order

New Delhi: Congress leaders on Monday challenged in Delhi High Court the trial court's decision summoning the 2010-11 balance sheet of Indian National Congress (INC) in connection with the National Herald case, saying such an order was not "desirable" in the present matter.

"Neither notice was issued to us, nor we were summoned to contest the present application filed before the trial court judge on which an order was passed," senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sam Pitroda, told Justice P S Teji.



"It was an ex-parte order," Sibal said, adding that the application filed by complainant BJP leader Subramanian Swamy should not have been allowed without hearing them.

The counsel further contended that the documents have "no relevancy" to this present case and the trial court judge has failed to explain in his order the "necessity or desirability" of these materials for the purposes of any "investigation".

"He (trial court judge) has to demonstrate the relevancy or the necessity of these documents," Sibal said, adding that "this order should be set aside".

Congress's Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) have challenged the trial court's January 11 and March 11 orders respectively in
which the magistrate had allowed summoning of documents from Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Income Tax Department and other agencies in the case in which Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi are also accused.

The case is based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy, charging them with cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

All the accused have denied the allegations levelled against them by Swamy.

The trial court had also summoned the balance sheet of INC for 2010-2011 besides the balance sheet of 2010-2011 of Associated Journals Pvt Ltd (AJL), observing that these documents of INC and AJL could not be referred as "personal documents" of the accused.

Besides Pitroda, Vora, represented by senior advocate R S Cheema, submitted that they will suffer "prejudice" by calling of INC documents, as the party is not involved in this case.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Fernandes, who has sought quashing of March 11 decision, said the trial court order is "gross violation of natural justice".

"Why accused be not given chance to reply to Dr Swamy's application," Singhvi said.

The arguments, however, remained inconclusive which will resume tomorrow when Dubey and YI will put their arguments before the judge.

Meanwhile, Swamy, declined to file his reply to the appeal filed by accused persons, when notice was issued to him and said they have no locus in the issue.

"This is a matter of law. The fact of matter is that there is no locus standi of petitioners. This matter is to be heard on maintainability," he told the court.

The trial court had on December 19 last year granted bail to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and three others -- Vora, Fernandes and Dubey -- who had appeared in the court pursuant to summons issued earlier. Pitroda, another accused, was granted bail later.

Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned under sections 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B(criminal conspiracy) The trial court had passed the two orders on Swamy's plea seeking summoning of documents.

Updated Date: Apr 04, 2016 19:40 PM

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