Dr Subramanian Swamy alleges that Young Indian, a company owned by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, paid Rs50 lakh and took over Rs90 crore debt of Associated Journal (the publisher of National Herald newspaper) and thereby gained control over properties worth over thousands of crores. The Rs90 crore debt was funded by Congress party, which is illegal, alleges Dr Swamy
Even since, the Delhi High Court has asked Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul, and others including Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda to appear in person before the Court on 19 December 2015, there is a logjam going on in the Parliament. The Congress is accusing the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of 'political vendetta' against its leaders, while the government is saying that it was decision of a Court. The HC matter is related with the alleged sale of publishing company of National Herald newspaper, as stated by petitioner Dr Subramanian Swamy in his petition. So what is the National Herald case?
Associated Journal and its shareholders
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, along with 5000 shareholders, incorporated The Associated Journal Ltd on 20 November 1937. The company has its registered office at Herald House, a six-storey building, at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in New Delhi. According to the Sunday Guardian report , the 5,000 shareholders of Associated Journal included many former Congressmen, freedom fighters and corporate entities.
"With the exception of Mrs Sonia Gandhi's relatives and a couple of loyalists, none of them have any legal heir participating in the company as a shareholder or are on the Board of Directors of a company which their ancestors built and funded. The heirs of the original shareholders (with the exception of the Nehru-Gandhi family) have all but vanished from Associated Journals Limited, the company, which brought out the National Herald. None of them have been given a stake in Young Indian, a private company owned and managed by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and a few family loyalists," the report says.
According to the report, Associated Journal's shareholders included, Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, GD Birla, Kailash Nath Katju, Rajni Patel, Vijayalaxmi Pandit, Sucheta Kripalani, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Purushottam Das Tandon, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia and her son Madhavrao Scindia. Lady Newah Bai Ratan Tata, senior trustee of Sir Ratan Tata Trust of Mumbai held 3,000 shares, while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, sister of Rahul Gandhi, held over 2 lakh shares in Associated Journal, the report says.
A report in Business Standard says, some of the largest non- Gandhi family shareholders, who the Gandhis are alleged to have defrauded, included Abhimat Investments (P) Ltd, which owned 100,000 shares. “Its address is simply listed as Bombay. But, this company could not be traced on the MCA21 website. In the next year’s annual return, filed after Associated Journals' take over by Young Indian, there is no Abhimat Investments. However, There is Abhim Investments (p) holding the same 100,000. Though even this company was untraceable, its given address was “Pratiksha, Plot No. 14, 10th Road, Juhu Scheme, Bombay-400049.” Pratiksha, movie buffs would know, is famously the Bungalow of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan,” the report says.The report says, “Late Lalit Suri (50,000 shares), his widow Jyotsna Suri (50,000) and another Suri family entity Deeksha Holding owned 1 lakh shares. Thus, the Suris own 21 per cent of the company.”
A number of shareholders of Associated Journals have claimed that the company’s chairman, Motilal Vora, and its directors did not inform them or obtain their approval while deciding to transfer its entire equity to Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL) in December 2010, says a report from the Indian Express.
At least 10 shareholders that The Indian Express spoke to said their approval had not been sought by the management. Vora is also the treasurer of the Congress party. “This is the first time I am hearing about such a company in which my grandfather had shares. I have no idea what kind of deal was struck. Had a letter or a notice for approval been sent to any of my siblings or at our Allahabad address, I would have been informed,” former Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju, whose grandfather Kailash Nath Katju held 131 shares in Associated Journal told the newspaper.
Former union law minister, Shanti Bhushan, whose father Vishwamitra owned shares in TAJL, said that the deal was questionable. “I will be talking to my siblings to check if anyone was contacted for seeking approval for the acquisition. We will also apply to get the shares transferred in our name and then become a party to the ongoing case against the Congress leaders,” Bhushan was quoted as saying in the report.