National Herald case: High court’s ruling could cast a shadow over GST bill


Congress said the Delhi HC’s rejection of the pleas of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case was “not a setback”

NEW DELHI: Congress reacted with indignation to the Delhi High Court judgment ordering the presence of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in a trial court hearing the National Herald case, claiming “several legal deficiencies” in the verdict even as the development could cast a shadow over the prospects of the GST bill hanging fire in Parliament.

Abhishek Singhvi, AICC spokesman and lawyer in the case, denied the order was a setback to Congress and questioned the aggression shown by complainant and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who he said had no locus standi in the National Herald issue while no other person involved had claimed being cheated.

“These things are subjective… we have an open and shut case… We have unassailable arguments,” he said, explaining that control of Associated Journals Limited, which brought out the now-defunct National Herald, had passed to a new company Young India Limited under Section 25 of the Companies Act.

Congress will appeal the order in Supreme Court in the morning as the trial court is scheduled to hear the case later in the day. There was a proposal the Gandhis should attend the trial court but it did not find muster with the Congress leadership.

The negative reaction from Congress, attributing the case to vindictive dirt-digging by a BJP leader, indicated that the development could affect the recent attempt at bonhomie between BJP and Congress over the GST bill. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently hosted Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh for a discussion on the vexed tax reform legislation.

Congress has the crucial numbers needed for passage of the GST bill in Rajya Sabha. While blocking GST now would appear a political reaction from a seething Congress, the latter has ring-fenced itself somewhat by insisting on three amendments despite the PM’s tea with Sonia and Singh.

Calling it part of a saffron attempt to keep the Congress first family off balance, AICC leaders dubbed it “good cop-bad cop” politics of BJP strategists and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in tandem.

The fresh provocation could also encourage a section in Congress which wants the leadership to block the Modi government as BJP did to the UPA.

Congress believes Swamy has dug up the case solely to target the leadership since “there is no cheating involved”. AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, “Congress does not view it as a setback but rather as an ongoing judicial process. No attempts to malign the Congress leadership through such doctored cases will deter our resolve to continue to oppose the anti-people policies of Modi government.”



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