The Delhi High Court on Monday rejected pleas filed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in a case related to the transactions between the newspaper National Herald and Young Indian Private Limited. The court rejected the pleas of the two Congress leaders against the Income Tax Department’s decision to reopen their tax assessment for 2011-’12.

“The writ petitions have failed,” PTI quoted Justices S Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla as saying. The court also dismissed a similar plea by Congress leader Oscar Fernandes.

Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are major stakeholders in Young Indian, a private company limited by guarantee that the Congress has said is a not-for-profit organisation. The other accused include Fernandes, Motilal Vora, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda – all of who have denied the allegations against them.

According to the Income Tax Department, the All India Congress Committee gave Rs 99 crore to Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of three newspapers including the National Herald. Gandhi chose not to disclose that he held the director’s post at the Young Indian. Gandhi’s shares in Young Indian would bring him an income of Rs 154 crore, not Rs 68 lakh as assessed earlier, said the department. Gandhi’s lawyer contended said that since he did not receive any income from the source, he was not liable to pay tax.

In March, Young Indian had asked the court to stay the recovery of Rs 249.1 crore in tax and interest after an earlier notice issued by the tax department for 2011-’12. The company contended that it is a charitable firm and does not have any income. On March 19, the court ordered the Young Indian to pay Rs 10 crore.

Last month, the Delhi High Court reserved the verdict in the case.

A party without conscience, says BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party, reacting to the High Court’s decision, said the Congress stood exposed, PTI reported.

“Whole Gandhi family today is known as a family of cheats, tax evaders and the corrupt,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra. He accused the Congress of calling a Bharat Bandh on Monday because it knew that the court would reject the Gandhis’ plea.

Patra alleged that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also complicit in the case and accused the Opposition party of selling its conscience.