National Politics

Sonia Gandhi May Not Appear Before ED Tomorrow Due To Health Issues, Say Sources

Earlier senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi Congress leader had said “Sonia Gandhi will “100 percent” appear before the ED

Congress president Sonia Gandhi may not appear before the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday, as per sources. This is due to health issues – the leader had tested positive for Covid-19 on June 2.

Earlier senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi Congress leader had said “Sonia Gandhi will “100 percent” appear before the ED and will not be cowed down by any such “vendetta” by the BJP government

What is the National Herald case?

The National Herald is a newspaper founded by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other freedom fighters in 1938. It focused to voice the concerns of the liberal brigade in the Indian National Congress.

The newspaper was published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and became a mouthpiece of the Congress party after Independence. In addition to the National Herald, AJL had two publications in Hindi and Urdu. However, the paper was shut down in 2008 with an outstanding debt of over Rs 90 crore.

The National Herald case came into the limelight when former BJP MP Subramanian Swamy filed a case in the Delhi High Court accusing Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of land grabbing and misappropriating funds worth thousands of crores of Rupees.

He further alleged that the Gandhis had acquired a public limited company — AJL — through a privately held firm — Young India Limited — of which Rahul Gandhi was the director.

Many shareholders of the AJL, including former law minister Shanti Bhushan and former chief justice of Allahabad and Madras High Courts Markandey Katju, said they were not served any notice when YIL acquired control over it. They said that the shares held by their fathers were transferred to AJL in 2010 without their willingness

Subramanian Swamy in his complaint alleged that YIL “took over” the assets of AJL, including the National Herald, in a “malicious” manner to gain profit and acquire assets worth over Rs 2,000 crore.

Swamy also alleged that YIL had paid just Rs 50 lakh to obtain the rights to recover Rs 90.25 crore which AJL owed the Congress party; it was given the amount earlier as a loan to start the newspaper. He also alleged that the loan given to AJL was “illegal”, as it had been taken from party funds.

In 2014, the Enforcement Directorate initiated a probe to see if there was any money laundering in the case. On 18 September 2015, it was reported that the Enforcement Directorate had reopened its investigation in the National Herald case.

In 2015, the Supreme Court asked Swamy to make a case for a speedy trial in the high court. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were granted bail in the case by the trial court on December 19, 2015. In 2016, the Apex Court granted an exemption to all the five accused in the case (the Gandhis, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, and Suman Dubey) from personal appearances while refusing to quash proceedings against them.

In 2018, the BJP Led Government decided to end the 56-year-old perpetual lease and evict AJL from Herald House premises on the ground that the latter was not conducting any printing or publishing activity — the ostensible objective for which the building was allotted in 1962. The L&DO had wanted the AJL to hand over possession by November 15, 2018. The eviction order claimed the building was used solely for commercial purposes. However, on April 5, 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a stay on proceedings against AJL under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971, until further notice.

April 2019, the Supreme Court on April 5 stayed the Delhi High Court order of February 28 which ordered a vacation of ‘Herald House’ in Delhi which has the National Herald office.

In 2020, a portion of a nine-story building in Mumbai’s tony Bandra area, 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).

Last year Feb, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy moved to the Delhi High Court against a trial court order declining, for now, his plea to lead evidence to prosecute Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and others in the National Herald case.

In March this year, The Delhi Bench of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal allowed an appeal filed by the directors of Young Indian, including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, against the Income Tax assessment of the properties of Associated Journals Ltd in the National Herald case.

Last month, Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge reached the Enforcement Directorate (ED) headquarters to record his statement in connection with a Prevention of Money Laundering case about a land deal.

The Enforcement Directorate also recorded the statement of senior Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal in a case involving Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and Young India.

 

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