(Image source from: Big blow to Sonia and Rahul in National Herald case})
The Delhi high court has on Monday dismissed the pleas by Sonia and Rahul against the summons issued in a case related to alleged irregularities in the acquisition of a daily newspaper, National Herald. The high court has also declined to grant them exemption from personal appearance before the trial court in the matter.
National Herald, started in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru, its circulation and financial health steadily deteriorated over decades, leading to its closure in 2008 with a debt of Rs 90 crore on its head.
The Congress party could have written off the loan of Rs 90.25 crore owed to it by the publishers of National Herald, instead of assigning it to a charitable company in which some of its leaders are directors, Justice Sunil Gaur had made the observation.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Gandhis, said that the loan was assigned to "clean the balance sheets of AJL" and to revive the company, so that it can borrow money from the banks and run on its own. The party had loaned Rs 90.25 crore to Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL), publisher of National Herald and on December 28, 2010 it had assigned this debt to Young Indian Ltd (YIL), the charitable company, for Rs 50 lakh, which, according to the petitioner Subramaniam Swamy, amounted to breach of trust and cheating.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had alleged cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Limited – the publisher of National Herald – by a company called Young Indian Limited, in which the Gandhis reportedly hold shares.
BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy had contended that the political party is being provided with bungalows for office space, free time on government run television and radio, security cover and exemption from income tax and thus, its "expenditure and investment obviously has to be for furthering public interest and cannot be for furthering private interest of anyone including its office bearers".
Swamy, has also contended that the Congress leaders betrayed the Indian government as well as various state governments by getting prime land on concessional rates on the pretext of running a publication and instead using the same for building malls or renting them out for commercial gains.