NEW DELHI - In a massive relief for Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in the high-profile National Herald case, the Patiala House court in New Delhi on Saturday granted them unconditional bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each.
According to Indian media, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh filed the bail bond on behalf of Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra – Sonia’s daughter – did the same for Rahul. The heavily secure Patiala House court saw virtually the entire Congress party attending the proceedings in solidarity. The court would next hear the case on February 20.
Making a huge political statement, both Sonia and Rahul got down from their cars and walked to the court, creating a flutter among the hundreds of security personnel deployed. Hundreds of Congress party workers raised slogans against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as they walked inside the court.
The relief to the top Congress leadership came at the end of a feverish Saturday, which saw the party and the BJP trade charges against each other. While the Congress alleged “vendetta” and called the petitioner from BJP Subramanian Swamy as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘mask’, Swamy dismissed the attack as another Congress ‘drama.’
In 2012, Swamy had filed the case accusing Sonia and Rahul and the others – Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda – of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring the ownership of now-defunct daily – National Herald.
The National Herald newspaper – founded by Jawaharlal Nehru – was closely associated with India’s freedom struggle and the Indian National Congress until 2008. On April 1, 2008, the paper’s editorial announced that it was temporarily suspending its operations. Before its closure, it was run by Associated Journals Limited (AJL). In 2009, Congress President Sonia ordered the closure of the defunct paper.
On June 26 last year, a trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy’s complaint about cheating in the acquisition of AJL by Young India Limited – a firm in which Sonia and Rahul each own a 38 percent stake.
The two Congress leaders then approached the Delhi high court seeking a stay. On Monday this week, the high court refused to stay the summons, and asked all of the accused to appear for a hearing on Saturday.
NEO Monitoring Report