In a jolt for Congress and its President Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Court today cleared the way for the Income Tax Department to investigate the National Herald Case.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed an application in 2012, accusing Sonia, Rahul and others associated with the Congress of conspiring to cheat in a land deal. In his complaint, Swamy had alleged that the Congress paid Rs 50 lakh and gained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that to the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), owner of the National Herald newspaper, owed to Congress party (this was given to start the newspaper earlier) – paper was established by the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru – violation of Section 269T of the Income Tax Act, 1961 is alleged.
Swamy has alleged that Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL), which has Sonia and Rahul on its board of directors, had “taken over” over the assets of the defunct print media outlet in a “malicious” manner to gain profit and assets worth over Rs 2,000 crore. Apart from the Gandhis, Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, general secretary Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda were also named in the case, according to IE report.
The Gandhis had on March 25 this year opposed as “vague and devoid of material particulars” Swamy’s plea seeking summoning of witnesses whose names he had filed earlier. The Gandhi’s, who are accused in the case along with some other Congress leaders, contended that Swamy’s plea was “in the nature of a fishing and roving enquiry which is not permissible in law”.
Swamy had on February 10 this year filed the list of witnesses before the court which had on December 26 last year given him the last opportunity to submit the list. The list includes the names of eleven persons including All India Congress Committees General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi, several officials of AJL and government officials, the PTI report says.
Earlier in a relief to Sonia and Rahul, the court had earlier rejected “as fishing enquiry” a plea of Swamy seeking a direction to the Congress party and AJL to produce certain records relating to the case, PTI story said. The Gandhis and other accused — Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda — have denied the allegations levelled against them. On December 19, 2015, it had granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey, who had appeared before it pursuant to summons. Pitroda was granted bail on February 20, 2016 when he had appeared in the court.