Updated: December 18, 2015 1:01:54 pm
What is expected on Saturday when Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Vice-President Rahul Gandhi appear before the Patiala House court in the National Herald case?
All accused, including the Gandhis, will appear before Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen in response to summons issued against them. They have been summoned by the trial court on prima facie charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and dishonest misappropriation of property under relevant sections of the law. At the beginning of the proceedings, the Magistrate will call out the name of each accused, and will register their presence. If any of the accused is absent, their defence counsel will have to seek a day’s exemption for non-appearance, giving the grounds for exemption. The court can either accept or reject the plea.
What will happen later in the proceedings?
The case has arisen out of a private criminal complaint filed by Dr Subramanian Swamy. The court will ask Swamy to lead the pre-charge evidence in the case. It is very unlikely that the court would begin recording the pre-charge evidence on Saturday itself, and will probably fix a next date of hearing. It will also ask the complainant to give to the accused a copy of the documents he is relying upon. While fixing the next date of hearing, the court will order that all the accused should be present in court on that day. The defence counsel may move an application seeking exemption from appearance for his clients, and the court may either reject or accept this plea for exemption.
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What is the likelihood of the Gandhis and other accused being sent to judicial custody on Saturday?
It is very unlikely that the court would send them to judicial custody at Tihar jail. This being a case arising out of a private criminal complaint, even if the complainant apprehends tampering of evidence or influencing of witnesses, and submits to the court that the accused be sent to judicial custody, the court would probably ask him to first lead the pre-charge evidence.
If, however, instead of being a private complaint, the matter had been registered by the police, with an inquiry having been conducted and a chargesheet filed, the prosecutor, on behalf of the state, could have moved a plea saying there was an apprehension that the accused could tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses, and they should, therefore, be sent to the custody of the court. The court, in that case, could have sent the accused to judicial custody for 14 days.
What happens after Swamy completes leading the pre-charge evidence?
The court will fix the matter on arguments on charge. At this stage, lawyers for the defence will argue against the criminal complaint. The court, after hearing arguments on charge, will either frame charges against the accused and put them on trial, or give them a clean chit in the matter and discharge them.
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