Sonia and Rahul get bail in National Herald case; next hearing on February 20
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Saturday sought and got bail in the National Herald case after a Delhi court rejected complainant Subramanian Swamy’s opposition to the relief for them on the ground they are influential and can flee the country.
Amid media hype and hoopla and tight security, Sonia and Rahul and three other accused Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey appeared before Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen in the Patiala House courts complex in the heart of the Indian capital in pursuance of the summons issued to them on Dec 8.
The case is based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy against them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
“The accused are reputed persons having deep political grassroots and there is no apprehension that they will flee,” the magistrate noted while granting them bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs 50,000 each and one surety.
He posted the case for further hearing at 2 pm on February 20, next year.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood surety for Sonia while Priyanka Vadra gave surety for her brother Rahul.
A K Antony stood surety for Fernandes and Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ajay Maken for the other accused. Sam Pitroda, yet another accused, was granted exemption from personal appearance Saturday on medical grounds.
In his reaction, Swamy said all their claims that they would not seek bail proved false. “They said they will not take bail. What happened now,” he asked reporters.
Earlier, Manmohan Singh and a host of Congress leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Shiela Dikshit, Ashwini Kumar and Meira Kumar arrived at the court complex shortly before the hearing was to commence at 3 pm.
A smiling Sonia followed closely by Rahul emerged out of the court after 15 minutes of proceedings.
As the proceedings began, Swamy opposed the bail saying the accused including Sonia and Rahul are “highly influential” people and can flee the country and that their passports should be seized and travel restrictions be imposed on them.
A battery of Congress lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi told the court that these are people who have deep roots in society and they hold high office and do not have any previous charge against them.
The summons were issued by the court on Dec 8 after the Delhi High Court the previous day had refused to quash the summons issued to them earlier to appear as accused.
Sibal and Singhvi told reporters after the proceedings that the court rejected Swamy’s plea and gave bail to the leaders.
“It is most unfortunate that Swamy sought to impose conditions including restrictions on travel abroad but the court granted unconditional bail,” Singhvi said.
“I don’t see the slightest reason for dissatisfaction with the court order,” he added.
Rejecting Congress criticism that he was doing vendetta politics at the behest of Congress, Swamy said look at the evidence in the case and not vendetta.
“I have so many friends (in the BJP). I am a Jan Sanghi. I know them (BJP leaders) personally. I have not taken an appointment with the prime minister and spoken to him at all about the case,” he told reporters.
Addressing media after coming out of the court, Sonia and Rahul hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of levelling “false allegations” against them and making “full use” of government agencies to “deliberately target” the Opposition.
The two said they will continue to fight and “not bow down”.
“Today we had appeared before the court with a clean conscience. We did what any law-abiding citizen should do. The laws of the nation applies to everyone without any discrimination. I have no doubt that the truth will come out,” Sonia said.