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National Herald case: Innocent until found guilty, says NCP

Majeed Memon

New Delhi: With Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to appear in the Patiala House court in connection with the National Herald case on Thursday, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said the former should be considered innocent until found guilty.

“Let us not blow this out of proportion. They have not yet been held guilty. Even this is not a stage of framing of charge. Therefore, not much legally can be expected to come out today,” NCP leader Majeed Memon told ANI.

“In this case, probably the complainant may make an application to the court and ask them to execute a bail bond, or ask them to deposit passports. Notices are then issued to the accused and they are heard on some future date. In this case, I don’t think there is necessity for execution of bond in all fairness because the accused are not common people and they are not likely to run away, they have deep roots in society,” he added.

Memon futher said today’s hearing was special as Congress stalwarts Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Oscar Fernandez and Motilal Vora will be appearing in the court.

Resonating similar sentiments, another NCP leader Tariq Anwar said, “Sonia ji has decided to be present in the court. Both Sonia ji and Rahul ji will go. Their lawyer will keep his documents and discussions will be done. This is a judicial fight and I think Congress Party is ready for it.”

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the Patiala House court in connection with the National Herald case.

According to party sources, the Congress is open to avail all legal remedies and options. Sonia and Rahul were summoned by the Court after a criminal complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds by them in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.

The National Herald newspaper was closely associated with India’s freedom struggle and the Indian National Congress till 2008. In January 2008, discussions about its closure began. On 1 April 2008, the paper’s editorial announced that it was temporarily suspending operations. Before its closure, the paper was being run by Associated Journals Limited (AJL).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy filed the case in a local court in 2012. The trial court then issued summons to the two leaders among others in June 2014, but they approached the Delhi High Court seeking a stay. On Monday this week, the high court refused to stay the summons, and asked all of the accused to appear for a hearing on December 19.

The accused face allegations that they illegally acquired property worth Rs. 5,000 crore belonging to the National Herald newspaper. (ANI)