Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi were Thursday summoned as accused by a local court for allegedly cheating and misappropriating funds in acquiring ownership of the now-defunct daily National Herald.
Stating that complainant BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had established a prima facie case of cheating, misappropriation of funds and criminal breach of trust against the accused, Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha issued summons against Sonia, Rahul and five others including AICC treasurer Moti Lal Vohra, general secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda, to appear before the court on August 7.
All of them are directors of Young Indian Ltd (YI), a company that was incorporated in 2010 and which took over the alleged ‘debt’ of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald.
The complaint mainly accused Sonia and Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying Rs 50 lakh by which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore, which the AJL owed to the Congress.
He alleged that in the present scenario, over Rs.2,000 worth of assets also got transferred to YI, whose 76 per cent of shareholding rests with Sonia and Rahul and the remaining shareholding of 24 per cent rests with the other accused.
“Complainant has established a prima facie case against the accused under section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property, 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC,” said Manocha.
The court, in its order, said, “From the complaint and the evidence led so far, it appears that YI was in fact created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use or as a special purpose vehicle for acquiring control over Rs 2000 crore worth of assets of The Associated Journals Ltd.(AJL).
“Since all the accused have allegedly acted in consortium with each other to achieve the said nefarious design, there are sufficient grounds for proceeding against all of them,” the court said.
Speaking to reporters, Swamy said “It is important for the court to take their passports so that they do not run away from the country before the hearing in the court”.