New Delhi: Accusing the BJP of running a political vendetta against it, the Congress on Tuesday said it did not do anything illegal in the National Herald newspaper case and will fight it out in the court of law.
“There is nothing criminal or illegal on the Congress’ part in the case,” senior party leader and counsel Kabil Sibal said during a press conference here in Parliament House complex.
He said Congress leaders were ready to appear before the trial court as desired.
“National Herald newspaper has been part of Congress’ legacy ever since it came into being. The party helped it by giving it loans as and when required, and there was nothing wrong in it,” Sibal added.
Asking if running a newspaper or giving loan was illegal or criminal, the Congress leader said the Bharatiya Janata Party too ran a newspaper and invested in mutual funds and other schemes.
He said it does not amount to a criminal or an illegal act unless and until there is something against the existing law.
Sibal said he along with fellow Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi was present before the Patiala House court earlier in the day, and requested the judge to give a date and time so that the party leaders could appear before it.
On Monday, the Delhi High Court dismissed the plea of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi to quash the trial court’s summons issued to them on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s complaint regarding the acquisition of National Herald.
The Delhi High Court asked them to appear before the trial court (a Patiala House court) on Tuesday.
“I was there from 10.30 to 11.30 a.m. We requested the court that the accused Congress leaders want to appear before it and it could give date and time according to its convenience,” Singhvi said.
He said it was the trial court’s decision to fix December 19 as the date for the Congress leaders to appear before it.
Sibal and Singhvi argued that giving loan to a company could not be a criminal activity.
“Filing such cases shows the government’s fear that it cannot defeat the Congress, and people like Subramanian Swamy have been kept in the BJP for such acts,” Sibal said.
Sibal said the Congress takes pride in its association with the National Herald and is trying to revive it by arranging funds for it.
“Congress has faced such situations in the past too. It’s being attacked for its ideology,” he said, adding the National Herald has always been a part of the Congress and Young India Limited was created to help it revive.
On being asked whether the Congress would allow passage of the GST bill in parliament, the Congress leader said they would want it to be passed.
BJP leader Swamy has alleged Gandhis illegally acquired property worth crores of rupees belonging to the National Herald newspaper.
The case is based on Swamy’s allegation that Congress leaders gave Rs.90 crore as a loan from tax exempted money to the newspaper. He has accused the Congress leadership of illegally acquiring the newspaper for just Rs.50 lakh to grab its properties in Delhi worth thousands of crores.
The newspaper had to shut its operations in 2008 after struggling with mismanagement and poor earnings.