The Gandhis must face the courts

Updated - March 24, 2016 02:53 pm IST

Published - December 10, 2015 01:51 am IST

Whatever be the merits of the charges against the principal office-bearers of the Congress party in the ‘National Herald’ case, > it is an issue that has to be settled in a court of law, and not in the wider political arena, much less in Parliament . If the Congress believes there has been no wrongdoing in the transactions related to the acquisition of Associated Journals Private Ltd. by Young Indian, a non-profit company in which the party's president, Sonia Gandhi, and vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, are the main shareholders, it must simply choose the judicial route to establish their innocence. The Delhi High Court order upholding the trial court summons to both of them, along with other directors of Young Indian, is based on what it sees as prima facie evidence of criminality. The best way to deal with the situation is to face it legally. When Subramanian Swamy first questioned the legality of the transactions, it was the Congress that challenged him to take Ms. Gandhi and her son to court. “It is for those who make allegations to prove their charges,” the party had said in 2012. It cannot then turn around now and say that the entire proceedings amount to political vendetta. Even if there is a political motive, the party’s president and vice-president have to provide answers to the questions that have arisen from the trial court summons and the High Court’s refusal to intervene. To disrupt Parliament on an issue that involves no larger public interest goes against all democratic norms, and it cannot be justified on any count. Indeed, to speak of political vendetta following a court summons is to cast aspersions on the very independence of the judiciary.

A look at the facts of the case does make one doubt whether AJL could not have protected its shareholders’ interests by liquidating some of its assets in order to return its loan to the Congress. The floating of Young Indian, described by the court as a ‘special purpose vehicle’, does cast some suspicion. At the same time, the weak point in Dr. Swamy’s case seems to be the absence of any identifiable victim who has been cheated or whose funds have been misappropriated. After all, the various assets of AJL still stand in its name and the shareholders of Young Indian, which being a Section 25 (non-profit) company, cannot get any dividend or profit out of the company’s rental income. The Congress will have to believe in its own contention that there was no ‘entrustment’ in the first place for anyone’s trust to be breached and that no one claims to be deceived or cheated. But the judicial process will have to be faced squarely without resort to political theatre. The charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust against the Congress leaders will have to be countered only through the legal route.

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