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Sonia, Rahul will have to appear in court on Aug 7

Sonia-Rahul duo hold 76% of total equity (38 per cent shares, each) in the company

‘Serious breach of trust. If proven guilty, they could be jailed for 7 years’

New Delhi: In a dramatic and sensational development, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi have been issued summons to appear in the Metropolitan Magistrate Court on August 7, in a case of cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of assets worth Rs 2,000 crore of National Herald, the newspaper startedby Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Will Have To Appear in Court on  August 7

Since summons have been issued, Sonia and Rahul will have to appear in the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, failing which a warrant is likely to be issued for their arrest. The other course open to them is to move the Delhi High Court to get the proceedings quashed. The party is seeking legal opinion on the future course of action.

Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha, who heard the petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, said, “I have found prima-facie evidence against all the accused. The court has directed them to appear before it on August 7.”

Subramanian Swamy has declared that he will seek impounding of passports of both Sonia and Rahul, on the ground that he fears that they may flee the country.

“There was a serious breach of trust. If proven guilty, they could be jailed for 7 years. They have been summoned as accused. There is prima-facie evidence against them,” he said, soon after the court order.

The Associated Journals Private Ltd (AJPL) is the owner-publisher of National Herald, Navjivan and Quami Awaz newspapers, set up by Nehru in 1938, which finally closed down in 2008.

According to Subramanian Swamy, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, both MPs and thus public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act, floated, under Section 25 of the Companies Act, a company called Young Indian.

Sonia Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi duo hold 76 per cent of the total equity (38 per cent shares, each) in the company, while Congress Treasurer Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey hold the remaining 24 per cent.

The Congress gave an unsecured loan of Rs 90 crore to Associated Journals, which, Swamy explained, is illegal under the Income-Tax Act, because a political party cannot give loans for commercial purposes.

The Congress gave an unsecured loan of Rs 90 crore to Associated Journals, which, Swamy explained, is illegal under the Income-Tax Act, because a political party cannot give loans for commercial purposes. Interestingly, the Congress admitted in 2012 that it had given “interest-free loans from which no commercial profit has accrued to the Indian National Congress.”

It was aimed at helping to bring the National Herald “back to health in compliance with the laws of the land.”

Swamy’s charge is that the entire deal was designed to grab the prized property owned by Associated Journals, including the Herald House on Bahadur Shah Zafar Margin in the Capital, which is worth about Rs 1600 crore, besides owning properties in Uttar Pradesh.

Significantly, when Subramanian Swamy had first raised the issue, Rahul Gandhi had in 2012 threatened to sue him for defamation, characterising the charges as “scandalous abuse” and “as utterly false, baseless and defamatory.” With the Metropolitan Magistrate finding prima-facie evidence, the onus is now on the Congress leaders to prove that the charges are false.

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