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Last Updated Saturday June 24 2017 10:41 PM IST

Setback for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi: Delhi HC orders I-T investigation in National Herald case

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Setback for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi: Delhi HC orders I-T investigation in National Herald case

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to stay the income tax proceedings against Young Indian Pvt Ltd in the National Herald case, which involves, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and asked them to approach the tax authorities.

"We are not inclined to entertain your writ petition. It is better you withdraw it and approach the income tax assessing officer," a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Chander Shekhar said.

It also said that the company has not moved the assessing officer raising its grievances, so it should first approach the IT department and submit its documents.

In case it is still not satisfied, the company can move the court thereafter, the bench added.

Sensing the mood of the bench, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the firm, withdrew the petition which was allowed by the court that termed it "dismissed as withdrawn".

Young Indian (YI) had approached the high court seeking a direction to stay the IT proceedings and quashing of re- assessment notices issued against it with regard to the National Herald misappropriation of assets case. The company was issued notices regarding the assessment year 2011-12.

The counsel for the Income Tax Department opposed the petition, saying the firm has not moved the assessing officer and hence its plea was not maintainable.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, in a private criminal complaint, had accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which YI had obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the Associate Journals Limited (AJL) owed to the Congress party.

The Gandhis and other accused -- Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda -- have denied the allegations leveled against them.

The trial court had summoned them as accused persons, besides Young India on June 26, 2014.

On December 7, 2015 the high court had rejected their pleas for quashing the summons issued against them by the trial court in the case.

On December 19, 2015, it had granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey, who had appeared before it pursuant to summons. Pitroda was granted bail on February 20, 2016 when he had appeared in the court.

The Congress President and the Vice President, Vora (AICC treasurer), Fernandes (AICC general secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned for the alleged offenses of dishonest misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust and cheating read with criminal conspiracy of the IPC.

The IT department's move to issue notices followed its probe on Swamy's complaint alleging that the Gandhis had misappropriated AJL's assets while transferring their shares to the newly formed Young India.

According to IT records, 83.3 percent of Young Indian was held by Sonia and Rahul, 15.5 percent by Vohra and the remaining 1.2 percent by Fernandes.

Timeline

January 2013: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy files case in a Delhi court against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, their companies and associated persons

June 26, 2014: The court summons Gandhis as accused in the criminal complaint for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.

August 1 : Delhi High Court issues notice to Subramanian Swamy on petitions filed by Gandhis and others in the case seeking stay on summons issued for August 7.

January 12, 2015: Judge recuses from hearing Sonia and Rahul's plea.

January 27: Supreme Court asks Subramanian Swamy to make out a case for speedy trial in High Court

December 4: High Court reserves order on pleas.

December 7: High Court refuses to quash lower court's summons to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the case.

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