The Delhi High Court Monday granted time to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and others accused in the National Herald case, to file replies on a plea by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy seeking to lead evidence before the trial court.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait listed the matter for further hearing on May 18.
Senior advocate R S Cheema and Tarannum Cheema, representing the Congress leaders, told the court that they could not file replies as their office was closed due to COVID-19 and sought more time.
The high court had on February 22 issued notices and sought responses of Gandhis, AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian (YI) on Swamy's plea and had stayed the trial court proceedings in the case till then.
Swamy has moved the high court against a trial court order of February 11 declining his plea to lead evidence to prosecute the Gandhis and the other accused in the case.
The trial court had said that Swamy's application under section 244 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to lead evidence would be considered after his examination in the case was over.
Swamy has sought summoning of certain witnesses, including the secretary general (registry officer) of the Supreme Court, a deputy land and development officer, and a deputy commissioner of Income Tax, and also directions to them to prove certain documents which are part of the case.
In a private criminal complaint in the trial court, the BJP leader had accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying only Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Ltd, owner of National Herald, owed to the Congress.
All the seven accused - the Gandhis, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and YI - had denied the allegations.
Proceedings against Vora abated subsequent to his death, while the others were summoned by the trial court in 2014 for the alleged offences of misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust and cheating, read with criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code.