Congress president Sonia Gandhi entered a court premises for the first time on Saturday, accompanied by son Rahul, daughter Priyanka and a battery of senior party leaders.
Sonia and Rahul took many by surprise as they alighted from their car almost 200 metres from the court complex and chose to walk the remaining distance to courtroom number 7 amid cheering supporters and hundreds of lawyers who came to work on a Saturday.
After waving briefly at the crowd, the two leaders, with folded hands, went inside the courtroom at 2.45 pm.
Twenty minutes later, former prime minister Manmohan Singh led the two out of the courtroom with a smile.
Gandhi wore a brick-red sari while Rahul preferred his usual kurta, jeans and jacket combination.
Priyanka, in a deep blue sari and coat, held the hands of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and spoke to party leaders AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Meira Kumar.
Hours before the leaders went to the court, barely three kilometres away from the Congress headquarters, party workers from Delhi and Haryana fanned across Akbar Road with cut-outs, posters, slogans and even old Bollywood music.
Inside, leaders such as Salman Khurshid, Gaurav Gogoi and Shobha Oza were busy giving bytes to TV channels.
The Patiala House court complex had turned into a fortress for the National Herald case, with BSF, CRPF, RPF, NSG and police personnel manning the entire premises from the morning.
Delhi police had put up double barricades outside the main gate. Special protection group (SPG) teams and bomb squads had spread out in the area and 16 additional CCTV cameras were installed outside the court.
All other cases were either advanced or given another hearing date.
The additional deployment of forces and restriction on movement also led to traffic jams around the India Gate for several hours.
Senior traffic police personnel were at the spot to monitor vehicular movement.
In an unprecedented move, the court complex was cordoned off from the media’s eyes without any legal order to that effect.
Senior Congress leaders, including Azad, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja were present at the venue before the Gandhis arrived.