A Delhi court will hear the plea filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seeking a no-objection certificate for issuance of an “ordinary passport” to him today. This comes after he surrendered his diplomatic passport upon his disqualification as an MP. The court on Wednesday asked former BJP MP Subramanian Swamy to file his reply by Friday in this matter, as reported by the news agency PTI
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Vaibhav Mehta, while posting the plea of Gandhi on May 26, observed the right to travel is a fundamental right and courts had placed no restrictions on the movement of the Congress leader who travelled several times without having to obtain a permission, as reported by PTI. The ACMM also said that while granting bail to Gandhi in December 2015, the court had placed no restrictions on his travel and the plea of Swamy for imposition of restrictions was rejected then.
Gandhi, who was disqualified as a Lok Sabha member after his conviction in a defamation case, is an accused in the National Herald case in which Swamy is the complainant. The Congress leader, whose sentence has been suspended in the defamation case filed over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname, had moved the court seeking a no-objection certificate on Tuesday.
Gandhi’s counsel Tarannum Cheema, who appeared along with advocates Nikhil Bhalla and Sumit Kumar, sought grant of a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the Congress leader so that he could secure a fresh passport.
ACMM Mehta, however, said Swamy has the right to file a reply on the application. The court allowed Swamy to file his response by May 26 after he sought time. The magistrate said he will hear arguments on the matter the same day.
“The applicant ceased to be a Member of Parliament in March 2023 and as such he surrendered his diplomatic passport and is applying for a fresh ordinary passport. By way of the present application, the applicant is seeking permission and no objection from this Court for issuance of a fresh ordinary passport to him,” the application said, as quoted by PTI.
The National Herald case is based on a private criminal complaint of Swamy against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others, accusing them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
The accused are reputed persons having deep political grassroots and there is no apprehension that they will flee, a magisterial court had noted while granting bail to them on December 9, 2015. Swamy has accused them of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of the now-defunct English daily newspaper National Herald.
All of them were directors of Young Indian Ltd (YI), a company that was incorporated in 2010 and which took over the “debt” of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald. Swamy had accused Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the AJL had owed to the Congress party.