India’s powerful Gandhis ordered to appear before court for alleged fraud

The Delhi High Court orders the torchbearers of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty to appear in court over alleged misuse of party funds, in a new blow for the family that lost power to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.

NEW DELHI, INDIA (DECEMBER 07, 2015) (ANI) – The Delhi High Court on Monday (December 07) ordered the torchbearers of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty to appear in court over alleged misuse of party funds, in a new blow for the family that lost power to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.

Sonia Gandhi, president of the opposition Congress party, and her son, Rahul, face accusations they used $13.5 million of party funds to pay debts accrued by the newspaper, National Herald.

The mother-son duo will need to appear in a district court in the capital on Tuesday (December 08), Bharatiya Janata Party leader and a petitioner in the case Subramanian Swamy told reporters.

“Today it has been decided that the plea filed by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others is baseless, the plea has been dismissed and they have been asked to appear before the trial court,” Swamy said in New Delhi.

The Gandhis deny any wrongdoing.

A spokesman for the Congress party, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is also a lawyer representing the Gandhis, said they would challenge the order legally, a move that will likely take the case to the Supreme Court.

“We will legally challenge the decision. We believe as per the law, legal procedure and proceedings, it has many loopholes,” said Singhvi.

A lower court first summoned the Gandhis in June last year. On Monday, the Delhi High Court rejected their plea to exempt them from a personal appearance.

Sonia Gandhi last year accused the Modi-led government of a “political witch hunt” after tax authorities started investigating her party in relation with the same case.

At the heart of the court case is Associated Journals Limited, publisher of three newspapers, including the National Herald, an English daily founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became independent India’s first Prime Minister.

Members of the Gandhi-Nehru family have led India for most of its post-independence era since 1947.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi’s government has moved to diminish the power of the dynasty, which it accuses of stunting development. The case against the family was brought by Swamy, an activist lawyer who is a vocal member of Modi’s ruling party.

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