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National Herald case: HC sets aside trial court order summoning Cong documents

Trial court’s order was passed “in a casual manner without due application of mind” and without giving opportunity to the opposite party to put up their arguments.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2016 16:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
National Herald,Young Indian Pvt Ltd,Sonia Gandhi
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has filed a case against Congress leaders in National Herald case.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday set aside an order of a Delhi court summoning the 2010-11 balance sheet of the Congress party in the National Herald case.

Justice PS Teji said the trial court’s order was passed “in a casual manner without due application of mind” and without giving opportunity to the opposite party to put up their arguments.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, party leaders Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and a company called Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) are accused in the case, which involves alleged financial irregularities in National Herald, a newspaper founded by former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1938.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged “cheating” in the acquisition of the Associated Journal Limited (AJL), the publisher of National Herald, by Young Indian Limited (YIL) — a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38% stake.

Swamy had accused the Congress of loaning this money to AJL and then assigning the debt to YIL for Rs 50 lakh - a transaction that the BJP leader said amounted to cheating and a breach of trust.

All the accused have denied the allegations levelled by Swamy saying that the party’s Rs 90 crore loan to AJL was assigned to Young Indian to revive the publication.

“Non-issuance of notice to the opposite side and impugned orders being non-speaking (order where reasons for the findings are not given) and without due application of mind as per the law laid down by Apex Court, culminates into the impugned orders as ineffective, redundant and not sustainable in the eye of law and liable to be set aside,” Justice Teji said.

Shortly after the HC verdict, Swamy tweeted, “Delhi HC judgment is not on law but on procedure. I will return to Patiala House (court which summoned Congress balance sheet) for documents again and let court follow the HC procedure”.

The High Court said Swamy could move the trial court again with a similar plea. It further said that the trial court was empowered to pass order “keeping in view the necessity and desirability of document in situations…and by granting an opportunity of hearing to the other party”.

Earlier, the trial court had allowed Swamy’s application for summoning of balance sheet of 2010-2011 of AJL while observing that the documents of INC and AJL could not be referred to as “personal documents” of the accused.

Vora, Fernandes, Dubey, Pitroda and YI had challenged the trial court’s order before the HC contending that they were neither heard nor summoned before passing any order.

However, Swamy had claimed that “they have no locus in the issue”.

First Published: Jul 12, 2016 16:49 IST