Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi have accused BJP leader Subramanian Swamy of seeking “fishing and roving enquiry” in the National Herald case by calling for certain documents from the party and the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL). The Congress top brass has claimed before a Delhi court that Swamy wants to make out a “new case” against it by taking recourse of a “fishing” probe in the matter.
The Gandhis, who along with leaders like Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda are accused in the case, have also opposed Swamy’s contention seeking summoning of Income Tax records from Congress party and AJL, saying these entities were not accused and hence their records cannot and should not be disclosed for maintaining their “confidentiality”.
The vehement opposition to Swamy’s submissions was made in the written reply filed before the court by the Gandhis and others before Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen.They also sought dismissal of Swamy’s plea with exemplary costs.
Swamy has accused them of allegedly conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which AJL owed to the Congress party. All accused have denied the allegations levelled against them. The court had issued notices to Gandhis and the other accused and the company Young Indian Pvt Ltd on August 27, seeking their replies within two weeks. The court has posted the matter for further hearing on October 4.
“The complainant (Swamy) has set up a particular case and it is his duty to prove the same. However, the present application contemplates to create a situation where a ‘fishing and roving enquiry’ could be set into motion beyond the scope of averments made in the complaint and case set up by the complainant in case the application is allowed…
“The complainant through this application is seeking to call for documents without divulging their necessity and desirability on the basis of the allegations made by him in his complaint. Thereby, the complainant seeks to access documents in an attempt to make out a new case,” the reply said, adding that “the endeavour of the complaint of not providing a list of witnesses also shows the malafide nature of the current application”. The Congress leaders’ reply also said that Swamy’s application reflected casualness as some of the sought documents were already on record of this case and some were exhibited by witnesses during the recording of the pre- summoning evidence in case.
The reply said “Swamy proceeded to move a wholly vague application demanding a series of documents to be summoned, without divulging even an iota of material as to the relevance and desirability of documents mentioned in application….” It claimed that a witness was already called from ROC (Registrar of Companies) at the stage of recording pre- summoning evidences and “to now again summon documents from the ROC falls within the parameter of a fishing and roving enquiry, as the case has already been set up by complainant during the course of recording of pre-summoning evidence”.
“The complainant has also sought documents from the Income tax authorities regarding parties (Congress and AJL) which are not accused in the matter. In such a scenario, IT Act contains sections pertaining to confidentiality of IT records which prohibit disclosure of information of assesses,” it said. In his application, Swamy had sought documents relating to a loan given by the Congress to the AJL, the holding firm of the National Herald, saying these were necessary for the purposes of trial in the case.
He had also sought some documents from ROC which were filed by the AJL and papers from the Department of Income Tax (DoT) in relation to income tax returns filed by AJL. The documents sought from AJL included “authorisation by the members of the AJL to borrow monies in excess of its paid- up capital and free reserve of AJL, relevant extracts from the books of accounts of AJL during the period of loan and documents by which the loan was converted into shares in the books of AJL.”
Swamy also sought summoning documents from “the Congress party reflecting the loans given to AJL and documents of the party in the year in which the loan was written off.” He also wanted summoning of “documents filed by AJL with ROC and certain papers from the DoT.” The application was filed by Swamy after the Delhi High Court set aside trial court’s orders summoning documents and the balance sheet of the Congress party for 2010-2011, holding that they were passed without hearing the opposite side and the lower court orders violated the “principle of natural justice” and the right to life and liberty under the Constitution.
In its July 12 verdict, the High Court had said the trial court orders of January 11 and March 11 seeking documents from Ministries of Finance and Urban Development, Department of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department and the summoning of certain documents pertaining to financial details of the party for 2010-2011, were “passed in a casual manner” and “without application of mind”. The high court’s order came on the pleas of Fernandes, Vora, Dubey, Pitroda and YI. Gandhi’s had not moved the high court against summoning of the documents and balance sheet.