The Enforcement Directorate has asked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to appear before it on July 21 for questioning in a money-laundering investigation related to the National Herald newspaper, PTI reported on Monday, citing officials.

The central agency had first issued summons to Sonia Gandhi and her MP son Rahul Gandhi on June 1 to appear before it on June 8. But she tested positive for the coronavirus disease on June 2 and sought more time.

Gandhi was admitted to Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi on June 12 due to Covid-19-related complications. Doctors treated her for nasal bleeding. On June 17, a fungal infection was detected in her respiratory tract.

She was discharged from the hospital after treatment three days later.

The Enforcement Directorate then issued a second summons to her for June 23. The 75-year-old leader again requested for more time, stating that she was still recovering from Covid-19 and a lung infection.

The Enforcement Directorate accepted her request and asked her to depose in the last week of July.

During her hospitalisation, Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for 50 hours over five days.

The case against Gandhis

The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. It was founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became India’s first prime minister.

In April 2008, the paper suspended operations as it had incurred a debt of over Rs 90 crore. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy has accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of setting up the Young Indian Private Limited firm to buy the debt using the funds from the Congress.

In his complaint before a trial court, Swamy accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate the funds. He has alleged that the Young Indian firm paid only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the Associate Journals Limited owed to the Congress.

The party had loaned the amount to Associated Journals Limited on an interest-free basis, according to court records. The Congress has claimed that there was no money exchange and only conversion of debt into equity took place to pay off dues like salaries.