The National Herald corruption case is the corruption case filed by Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against the president of Congress party Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and other prominent leaders of Congress in Delhi trial court.
On 1 November 2012 Subramanian Swamy who is an economist and lawyer filed the case that congress leaders were involved in cheating and breach of trust in the taking over the property of Associated Journals Ltd by Young Indian Ltd (YIL). He alleged that YIL had ‘taken over’ the assets of the National Herald in a ‘malicious’ way.
Associate Journal Limited (AJL) took a loan of rupees 90 crores it was an interest-free loan taken from Indian National Congress. The newly formed Young Indian Company promised to pay the loan on behalf of AJL and acquired the properties and almost all the shares of the AJL by paying 50 lakhs. The estimated worth of property was around 5000 crore.
The court has determined a prima facia case against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and they are out on bail.
The main issue that swami pointed out in his various media interview is that all the top post at the time when this took place was held by Congress leader in all the three institutions.
The thing illegal in the whole process argued by Swami is that no party can lend money for the commercial purpose under Section 29A to C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Section 13A of Income-tax Act, 1961, and demanded investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the de-recognition of the Indian National Congress party for using public money.
On 2 November 2012, the INC responded that the purpose of giving a loan was only for reviving the National Herald newspaper with no commercial interest.
Many shareholders of AJL had issued statements that they were not given any notice about the meeting of the shareholders of AJL. These shareholders include prominent individuals such as former law minister Shanti Bhushan and former chief justice of Allahabad and Madras High Courts Markandey Katju.
Associated Journal Limited (AJL)
AJL was incorporated on 20 November 1937 with head office at Herald House, 5-A, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi. It was started by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru with the support of 5000 freedom fighters.
After independence AJL was given land at low rates to operate media houses. They were also given a building in Delhi on lease for printing purposes but the Modi government broke the lease agreement saying no printing or purpose for which it was granted is done there.
AJL shares were held by 1057 shareholders as of 29 September 2010. The list of shareholders was published by the company in its annual report.
Motilal Vora took over the post of chairman and managing director of AJL on 22 March 2002. AJL published the National Herald newspaper in English, Qaumi Awaz in Urdu, and Navjeevan in Hindi until 2008. After 2008 they stopped publishing papers due to losses incurred by the company.
In 2016 the AJL launched its three newspapers National Herald, Quami Awaz, and Navjeevan. National herald is now running it’s YouTube channel with 7.15k subscriber and an e-newspaper also.
Young India Company
Young India Company was incorporated on 23 November 2010 with a capital of 5 lakh in which Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi held 38 percent shares each. The remaining 24 percent are held by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes (12 percent each).
Rahul Gandhi was made director of the company on 13 December 2010. On 22 January 2011, Sonia Gandhi joined the board of directors.
The Congress leaders approached the high court of Delhi for quashing summons issued by the magistrate. Meanwhile, Swami approached the supreme court but the supreme court directed him to approach the high court where the appeal of Sonia Gandhi and others was pending.
The enforcement directorate on 1 August 2014 started a probe to check if there was any kind of money laundering in the case.
On 7 December 2015, the Delhi High Court dismissed the appeals of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and five others which included Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, and Sam Pitroda, and ordered them to appear in person before the trial court on 9 December. The Delhi High Court said in its 7 December 2015 judgment noted “criminal intent.
SC on 12 February 2016 granted an exemption to all the five accused in the case from personal appearances while refusing to quash proceedings against them.
Case registered by ED on AJL
In 2020 property valued at Rs 16.38 crore, has been attached by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its money-laundering probe against the Congress-party promoted Associated Journals Limited (AJL).
According to the ED, the property was purchased after taking a loan fraudulently from Delhi’s Syndicate Bank.
Ed is also investing in the Panchkula property case, property acquired by AJL. Panchkula property was fraudulently given to AJL in 1982.
Ed said the plot was resumed by the estate officer in 1992. In 2005, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the then CM of Haryana and also chairman of HUDA, however, allegedly misused his official position and allotted the plot afresh in the guise of re-allotment to the AJL at original rates plus interest, which was done in violation of HUDA conditions and policy.
According to ED, earlier, their investigations revealed that senior Congress leader Moti Lal Vora and Hooda had illegally possessed the Panchkula property, which was “crime proceeds” and was provisionally attached by the adjudicating authority under PMLA.
“The accused not only illegally possessed that Panchkula property but also illegally mortgaged it for availing loans from Syndicate Bank in Delhi,” the officer said. “Since this Mumbai asset germinated from a property which is proceeds of crime, it has been attached. Further investigation is on,” he said.