Manmohan, Congress leaders stand up for Sonia in court

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) When Congress President Sonia Gandhi along with party vice president Rahul Gandhi entered the room of the magistrate at the Patiala House courts complex here, senior leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh stood up as a mark of respect.

Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajiv Shukla, Ajay Maken, Kumari Selja and A.K. Antony were already present in the court room to express solidarity when the Congress chief entered the court.

All the Congress loyalists stood up for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, but not Bharatiya Janata Party leader and petitioner Subramanian Swamy and his wife, according to court sources.

Metropolitan Magistrate Loveleen was thereafter informed by his staff about the arrival of the Gandhis and other accused.

The court complex was barricaded and turned into a virtual fortress. Even journalists, who were provided passes on Friday, were not allowed to attend the proceedings of the case due to security reasons.

In approximately 10 minutes of hearing, the sources said, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi along with other accused Motilal Vora, Suman Dubey and Oscar Fernandes were asked to stand in an ‘accused box’.

Wearing a maroon-coloured saree, Sonia Gandhi disembarked a short distance away from the Patiala House Courts complex and walked into the premises amid tight security, after which the gate was shut. Walking towards the court room with smiles on their faces, the Gandhis looked calm.

Rahul Gandhi, who was with her, waved to the crowd that had gathered to have a glimpse of them.

A few lawyers even shouted “Chhota Bheem” (name of a cartoon character) to tease Rahul Gandhi. It was in reference to online fun being poked at Rahul Gandhi.

“I am here since morning just waiting for the lifetime opportunity to see Sonia and Rahul Gandhi,” said a lawyer standing in the huge crowd.

After being granted bail, the Gandhis came out of the court room along with their advocates Kapil Sibal, Ramesh Gupta and Congress leaders.

On June 26 last year, the trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy’s complaint about “cheating” in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd., which published the National Herald newspaper, by Young India Ltd., “a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake”.

Vora, Dubey, Fernandes and Sam Pitroda were also named as accused in the case. Pitroda was not present in the court due to health issues.

The Delhi High Court last week dismissed the plea of the Gandhis to quash the summons issued to them by the trial court on Swamy’s complaint.

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