New Delhi: In a major relief to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Court today stayed criminal proceedings against them and other Congress leaders in National Herald case till August 13.
Patiala House Court had issued summons to Sonia, Rahul and other Congress leaders to personally appear in the case on August 7.
The case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy relates to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), publisher of three newspapers, including National Herald, English daily founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became independent India's first prime minister.
In 2008, the company closed its operations with an unpaid debt of about USD 15 million, according to allegations in a copy of the court order. The case accuses the Gandhis of setting up a firm called Young Indian Company to buy the debt using Congress party funds even though AJL allegedly had real estate assets worth at least USD 335 million, which would have cleared the debt.
Motilal Vora, the Congress party treasurer, was managing director of Associated Journals and later became a shareholder of Young Indian Company, according to the allegations. Swamy alleged that Young Indian Company then owned all the equity in Associated Journals and rented out its properties to profit its shareholders, including Rahul and Sonia, who together controlled 76% stake.
Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi were summoned by the court in June after Swamy filed a complaint accusing them of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.
In his petition, the senior BJP leader had alleged misappropriation of assets worth Rs 2000 crore of the National Herald newspaper. Swamy had also accused Sonia, Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which Young Indian obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the Associate Journal Limited had owed to the Congress party.
Congress leaders have alleged vindictiveness by the new BJP government, which took power in May after winning the national election and said that it will respond to them in court.
Delhi High Court has fixed August 13 as the next date for hearing this case.