Dismissing the special leave petitions to appeal filed by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders, the Supreme Court of India has upheld the judgment of the Delhi High Court wherein it had refused to quash the proceedings in the National Herald case before the Patiala House Court in Delhi.
The bench comprising of Justices JS Khehar and C Nagappan observed:
Insofar as the determination rendered by the High Court, in rejecting the prayer for quashing the proceedings against the petitioners is concerned, we find no justification in interfering therewith.
However the court has expunged the remarks made against the petitioners by the Delhi High Court at paragraphs 31 to 39 of its judgment. Court observed:
We are of the view, that it was not open to the High Court to record any firm conclusions, and the same ought to have been left to the Trial Court, to be rendered after recording evidence in the matter. Accordingly, we hereby expunge all final inferences and conclusions drawn by the High Court, on the various factual aspects in the matter.
Affirming the liberty granted by the Delhi High Court, Supreme Court permitted the petitioners to raise all the issues that are open to them, at the stage of framing of the charges before the trial court.
Petitioners were represented by senior counsels Kapil Sibal, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin P Raval and RS Cheema. The original complainant – Dr. Subramaniam Swamy appeared as a respondent – caveator-in-person.
Petitioners’ counsels sought an exemption for them for personal appearance before the trial court. This was opposed by Dr. Swamy who cited Court’s judgment in TGN Kumar v. State of Kerala, wherein the Court had held that the accused should seek exemption from personal appearance from the trial court and that it can be granted on the satisfaction of the concerned magistrate. Though the Court agreed with its opinion in TGN Kumar, considering the “peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, especially keeping in mind the position occupied by the petitioners” Court observed:
…we are of the considered view, that the presence of the petitioners during hearing before the Trial court, would cause more inconvenience than convenience. And accordingly, we direct that the petitioners shall be exempted from personal appearance before the Trial Court. Needless to mention, that it shall be open to the Trial court, to require the personal appearance of the petitioners, as and when required.
Observing the above, court disposed of all the petitions before it.
The complete order of the Supreme Court can be read here.