Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi were granted bail in the National Herald case on Saturday. The two, along with others, appeared before Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen in Delhi’s Patiala House Court. The other accused in the case are Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian.
Five of them were granted bail on a surety bond of Rs 50,000 each. Sam Pitroda did not appear before the court and has been summoned for the next hearing scheduled for 20 February 2016. Senior Congress leader A.K. Antony turned guarantor for Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra for Rahul, respectively.
Senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Gandhis in court, filed the bail application. The petitioner Subramanian Swamy, who is also a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, pleaded for conditional bail of the accused and asked for restriction on their travel abroad. The Judge presiding over the hearing overruled this plea and granted them bail unconditionally saying, “They (Gandhis) are respectable citizens of India and public office holders of one of India’s oldest political parties and thus could be granted bail unconditionally.” The entire proceedings were over in less than 15 minutes.
“We were certain and there was no fear; this is not a serious offence like murder, where bail would be refused. This is a private complaint and, according to norms, in private complaints, bail is generally granted. As these are documentary evidence case and thus they have been granted bail on Rs 50,000 personal surety bond, we have presented them to the court,” Kapil Sibal told reporters outside the court. The Gandhis will have to appear in court if need be as they have not claimed exemption from personal appearance. The Congress party members and workers seemed jovial since morning. Over 2,000 people had assembled inside the All India Congress Committee office in Delhi’s Akbar Road. Party leaders and workers were confident that the Gandhis will not have to go to jail.
While dismissing charges of criminality in the case, senior Congress leader and former Union minister Salman Khurshid said: “Mergers and acquisition take place every day. There are clear provisions for the same in law. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. As far as my knowledge in law goes, there is no criminality in the case. This is indeed a case of prolonged political vendetta that Mr (Subramanian) Swamy has been pursuing against Sonia Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi too.”
“(In this case) There are absolutely zero ground to send anyone to jail. When Mr Swamy is in no way related to the transfer of Associated Journals Limited to Young Indian, why has he made it an agenda for persecution against the Congress top brass? You have to take a business decision while taking over a company. Most of the times, you acquire companies that are in debt or not doing well. That is a sensible business decision, as simple as that. We are confident that this political vendetta and will not succeed,” he said. The seven persons are accused under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) like 403 (fraud), 406 (cheating), 420 (criminal misappropriation) and 120B (criminal breach of trust).