National Herald case: Supreme Court of India provides reprieve to Gandhis

NEW DELHI (TIP): A Supreme Court bench of Justices J.S. Khehar and C. Nagappan granted Ms. Sonia and Mr. Gandhi exemption from making personal appearances before the Magistrate court, saying this would cause “more inconvenience than convenience”. However, the justices said. the trial proceedings should continue. The justices refused to quash criminal proceedings against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case but expunged all “firm conclusions” made by Delhi High Court about their criminal intent. “We will pass an order fair to all,” Justice Khehar said.

The apex court however said it will not interfere or quash the trial proceedings. The court did not pay heed to senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A.M. Singhvi that BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy had no locus standi to file a complaint of cheating and breach of trust as only an aggrieved person could do that.

However, drama began on Thursday when senior advocate Kapil Sibal sought an assurance from a Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice R. Banumathi that the Gandhis would be given an urgent hearing on February 12 itself.

Mr. Sibal said BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed the complaint in the case, is now saying he would not be available till February 19. This was when the next date of hearing before the trial court is February 20.

Ms. Gandhi has urged the Supreme Court to recognize her “deep roots in the society” and quash the politically-motivated criminal proceedings before irreparable damage is done to her reputation. The accused Congress brass has asked the top court to stay the December 7, 2015 order of the Delhi High Court. The High Court had not only refused their request to stay the summons of the trial court but also went on to brand the case as “one of its kind where the probity of the legendary Congress party is under scanner.”

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Sunil Gaur had observed in his 20-odd page order that it would be “preposterous” to deny criminality in transactions that, it feels, had left lakhs of citizens who donated to the party “cheated.”

The High Court order led to the personal appearance of the accused leaders in the trial court, which had granted them unconditional bail.

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