New Delhi, Dec 4
Comprehensive report with detailed arguments of Dr. Swamy
The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its judgment in the National Herald case after senior BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy made a forceful argument for dismissal of the pleas of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son party Vice President Rahul Gandhi and four others against a trial court order summoning them on a cheating and breach of trust complaint.
But to the discomfort of the Congress stalwarts, Justice Sunil Gaur observed that the Congress party could have written off the loan of Rs 90.25 crores it had given to the Associate Press Journal – publishers of National Herald, instead of assigning it to a charitable company — Young India, in which some of its leaders are directors.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the Gandhis, argued that the Congress `assigned’ the loan to Young India to “clean the balance sheets of AJL” for the revival of the company and to make it loan worthy.
In the heart of the alleged scandal is the fact that the Congress loaned Rs 90.25 crore to (AJL), on December 28, 2010 and subsequently assigned this debt to Young Indian Ltd (YIL), a charitable company, for Rs 50 lakh.
Interestingly, Sonia and Rahul hold 76 percent share in the YIL and 12 per cent each are held by Congress treasurer Motilal Vora and party leader Oscar Fernandes. Vora is also the Chief Managing Director of the AJL, which has huge real estate assets of Rs 2000 cr.
The trial court had issued summons to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda (the two are directors of the YIL). The Congress leaders came to the HC seeking quashing of the trial court order.
Dr. Swamy contended that the loan was “illegally” given to the AJL since political parties cannot give such loans for commercial purposes. He also said that the YIL was floated by Sonia, Rahul and Congress leaders to grab the properties of the AJL. However, Kapil Sibal and Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi contended that political parties can invest in news publications.
Dr. Swamy also argued that the AJL cannot legally assign its debt to the YIL at a ‘farcical value’ of Rs 50 lakhs, and the said debt owed by the AJL to Congress was irretrievable.
Sibal denied Swamy’s charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust as no offence was committed against any an individual. He also questioned Swamy’s locus to file the complaint since he was not a victim..
Sibal argued that there was nothing wrong in giving loan to the AJL by the Congress and o refuted Swamy’s argument that the AJL ownership changed after assigning of the loan to the YIL.
Sibal claimed that stakes of the promoters and shareholders remained the same before and after the shares were issued.
- On June 26, 2014, the trial court had summoned Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes, Dubey and Pitroda to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on Swamy’s complaint.
- On July 30, 2014, the Congress leaders approached the high court which stayed the summons on August 6 last year.
- On December 15, 2014, the court had stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.