Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday rejected Congress charge of political vendetta on the part of Modi government in the National Herald case saying it has nothing to do with it.
Attacking the Congress over disruption of Parliament on the issue, he asked party leaders including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to face the courts saying India is not a banana republic in which Parliament or media can decide the guilt or innocence in such matters.
“No political vendetta. A private complaint was lodged. Government had nothing to do with it. The High Court has dismissed their case and asked them to go and face trial. Nobody in this country has immunity from law. They can challenge the orders in a higher court or face proceedings,” he said.
Jaitley was talking to reporters after both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day after repeated disruptions by Congress members over the Herald case in which the Delhi High Court yesterday dismissed the plea of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and others seeking quashing of summons against them and exemption from personal appearance.
Jaitley said the substance of the court proceedings is that a political party — Congress — collects funds for political purpose, gets a tax exemption but by a series of transactions those funds have been transfered to a trust and then to a company, which is closely held.
That company today is owner of real estate, getting lot of rents. Funds collected for a political activity were used for a commercial purpose. Tax exemptions are for political activity, he said.
Jaitley said a private complaint is lodged in which the government does not get into it. “The complainant has alleged violation of law and the court has said prima facie there is a violation. Court issued notice, the accused are summoned they must appear before the court.”
The accused have a right to seek quashing. They sought a quashing they failed. The High Court have made some adverse observations, he said.
“The government has done nothing and if the government were at some stage to find that an investigative agency were to find some prima facie, they could do so. They have not reached that stage,” Jaitley said.
He said the remedy is to go and file an appeal against the order or to appear before the magistrate and face trial. “The remedy is not to disrupt Parliament.”
“Its India’s misfortune that you have a political party which have ruled this country for 50 years which when faced with criminal charge against its leaders and serious criminal charge that the money is collected for political purpose are used for real estate purpose,” he said.
Jaitley asked how Parliament is involved in the issue. “Parliament does not decide the guilt or innocence nor does the media. India is not a banana republic where the media or Parliament will decide guilt or innocence in a private complaint.”
He said a private complaint can be filed by any citizen who feels there has been a criminal violation. “I am here and now challenging the Congress party for a discussion on this matter like we offered the Congress party a discussion on matters they demanded during the last session.”