Set Back To Congress In National Herald Case
New Delhi: As the Presidential elections are fast approaching, major opposition parties are facing setbacks as law agencies are catching up with them. While opposition parties are calling it political witch hunting, these allegations have been in the news for quite some time. It’s only now that the law agencies have taken cognisance of these things and have swung into action.
On Friday, the Delhi High Court gave a green signal for an Income Tax investigation into Young Indian Private Limited in which Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice-president Rahul Gandhi are directors. The company was issued notices for the assessment year 2011-12.
The company will now probably move the Supreme Court.
Young India approached the high court for a direction to stay the IT proceedings and quashing of notices against it with regard to National Herald misappropriation of assets case.
As the Associated Journals Limited which publishes three newspapers including the National Herald was closed in 2008 due to financial losses, the Gandhi family loyalists Dubey and Pitroda have taken it over and floated Young India Private Limited. After two years Rahul Gandhi was appointed as its director.
The Associated Journals Limited was established by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became the Prime Minister of the country.
The accusation was that Sonia and Rahul by paying Rs. 50 Lakh through which Young Indian Pvt. Ltd obtained the right to recover Rs. 90.25 crores which Associated Journals Ltd owed to the Congress, conspired to cheat and misappropriate funds. Incidentally, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi together hold 76 per cent stake in the Young India Private Limited.
Speaking to a television channel BJP leader and MP Subramaniam Swamy said that these cases will see trial, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not do anything, people will say that he only gives speeches.” he said.
In fact, it was Swamy who filed a complaint before the trial court in 2012 alleging that Congress leaders were involved in cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition process of AJL by YIL. If the case progresses, the Gandhis and others will be tried on charges of dishonest misappropriation of property (section 403 IPC), criminal breach of trust (section 406), cheating (section 420) and criminal conspiracy (section 120 B).
The first to react from Congress, spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, said “The Gandhis have the option of approaching the Supreme Court. The I-T department cannot open an onesided investigation. Swamy is not in charge of I-T.”
In the case filed by Swamy, the other accused include Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda. The court summoned the accused on 26 June 2014 and granted bail to Sonia, Rahul, Vora, Fernandes and Dubey in 2015 as they appeared before it in pursuance with its summons. Only Pitroda was given bail in 2016 when he appeared before the court.
The Associated Journals over a period of time accrued losses as the National Herald’s circulation dropped and finances exhausted. It was closed in 2008 with a debt of Rs. 90 crores.
As it was launched by freedom fighter and first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Congress party gave the company unsecured, interest-free loans when it was in financial crisis. This went on up to 2010. Later it was taken over by Young Indian Private Limited (YIL).
After the creation of a new company, AJL became a subsidiary of Young Indian by virtue of AJL transferring its entire equity to Young Indian in lieu of YIL owning its Rs. 90 crore debt. Subsequently, Rahul was appointed as its director in December 2010 and Sonia joined as a director in 2011. On the same day Vora and Fernandes were appointed to the Young Indian Board.