A Delhi court summoned on Friday the Congress’ balance sheet for 2010-2011 in a case related to alleged misappropriation of party funds in the acquisition of the now-defunct National Herald newspaper.
This is likely the first time financial documents of the grand old party have been sought in a criminal case.
“While balance sheets are filed before the Election Commission periodically and individuals submit their financial documents to courts, but the manner in which Congress’ financial documents have been summoned in this case is unconventional, to say the least,” said a party source.
Launched by the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938, the newspaper ceased publication in 2008.
Metropolitan magistrate Loveleen also summoned the balance sheet of Associated Journals Pvt Ltd (AJL), which published National Herald, for the same period observing that these documents could not be referred as “personal documents” of the accused.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had charged Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and four other Congress leaders with “cheating” in the acquisition of AJL by Young India Pvt Ltd (YIPL). Sonia and Rahul own 38 percent stakes each in YIPL.
The court asked for the papers by March 21, the next date of hearing in the case.
The order came on a plea filed by Swamy who had sought financial documents of the Congress for three years starting 2010-11. However, after seeking some clarifications, the court said it would “partly allow” the application.
Swamy said the documents are relevant to prove his charges that the Gandhis and directors of YIPL -- Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda – had conspired to misappropriate funds in acquiring National Herald.
He said the documents were also referred to in the June 26, 2014 order summoning the Gandhis and others as accused in the case.
According to Swamy, the Gandhis and the four directors YIPL had conspired to misappropriate funds by helping AJL obtain a loan of over Rs 90 crore from INC’s funds, of which just Rs 50 lakh was eventually paid back to the political party.
On February 20, the court directed that some documents summoned from the ministries of finance, urban development and corporate affairs, income tax department and other agencies in the case would be kept in a sealed cover till further orders, noting that Delhi high court was seized of the matter.
The court granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey on December 19, 2015. Pitroda was granted bail on February 20.