National Herald Case : The Legal Battle Still Goes Around
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has recently summoned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi & party MP Rahul Gandhi for Gandhi couldn’t appear as she was admitted to Delhi’s Ganga Ram hospital due to Covid-19 complications. But Rahul did. The ED has been interrogating him for three consecutive days past week and still called him on the following Monday for continuing investigation. Congress party leaders and workers demonstrated on road and dissented against the ED’s summon. Congress alleged that the BJP is taking actions for revenge and misusing central agencies. It also refuted all the allegations levelled against it and pronounced it ‘political vendetta’.
The National Herald, a newspaper, was founded by the first Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1938. At that time, it was considered the head letter of Congress Party. In fact. Nehru himself wrote editorials in this newspaper. It went on to become a prominent voice against British rule. Later, in 1942, the British govt. banned it. The right of ownership was under The Associated Journals Limited or AJL. Apart from English Newspaper National Herald, two other newspapers were also published so called the Qaumi Awaz in Urdu, & Navjeevan in Hindi. After Independence, in 1956, The AJL was set up as a not-for-profit entity and as a Section 25 under Company Act, it was made tax-free.
But, over the years, it lost steam. And about 70 years later, in 2008, AJL stopped publishing the papers due to continued losses and later it was suspended. The Company owed Rs. 90 Crores by now. Meanwhile, to save the paper, interest-free loans had been given to AJL reportedly from the party funds by Congress. By 2008, Congress was given about Rs 90 crore by AJL -- which had about 1,000 shareholders. It was then that AJL stocks were transferred to Young Indian Limited (YIL) -- a private charitable company formed by Gandhis in 2010 under Section 25 of the Companies Act. In addition to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Suman Dubey, Oscar Fernandez, Moti Lal Vora (now deceased), Satyan Gangaram (Sam) Pitroda were made the directors of YIL. In this company YIL, Both Sonia & Rahul had 76 % shares while the rest of the investors had remaining shares.
In 2012, BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy’s complaint had alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds on the part of the Gandhis in acquiring the newspaper. Swami had alleged that misappropriated funds by paying Rs. 50 lakhs through YI to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that how AJL -- which had assets worth Rs 2,000 crore in prime locations-- owed to the Congress. On 26 June 2014, the Delhi Lower Court summoned all directors of YIL. But Congress leaders petitioned in the Delhi High Court on which after hearing, the summoned released by lower court was suspended. Congress rejected the charges. It said that YIL was a not-for-profit company but made for social and charitable work and no profit or dividend can be doled out to its shareholders or directors – in this case the Gandhis. Also, The party insisted that the AJL continues to be the owner of National Herald & there is no transfer of property. However, Sonia and Rahul were granted bail on December19, 2015. Later, the Delhi High Court rejected the stay petition by congress leaders and ordered the lower court to hear the matter properly as the case is related to the party’s long-established legacy. And now, the trial is running on Rahul Gandhi for money laundering.
The web is complex & the numbers are mind boggling. Two things are definite, things are not straight and those involved have a crooked history. This lack of accountability kind of landlord mindset of has gone for too long. The Congress Party has been accusing the BJP of vendetta politics to divert attention from issues like inflation, GDP, and social unrest. There was no evidence of money laundering or of any money exchange proved so far. This is a queer case of money laundering where no money is involved. So, this creation of a web of companies is not new in which nothing gets made, nothing gets sold & still people make money.