The National Herald scam is one of the few scams in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are directly involved. In the scam, Subramanian Swamy had accused Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and others of cheating & misappropriating funds.
The Gandhis are accused of forming a sham company called “Young Indian” for acquiring control over Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) which had assets worth over Rs 2,000 crore. AJL was a company owned by the Congress Party. AJL also owed over Rs 90 Cr to the Congress party, but this debt was excused by Congress party, as soon as Gandhi owned Young India acquired AJL.
This case was filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property) and section 420 (cheating).
In the past couple of days, national media has been carrying various “source” based news reports on this scam. Various news portals are reporting that a “huge relief” has been afforded to the Gandhis in this scam. Some of the reportage:
1. Firstpost (based on an IANS report)
In a huge relief to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to close the National Herald case. The ED has decided to close the case due to lack of substantial evidences against both Congress leaders, sources said on Monday.
2. CNN IBN
In a big relief for Congress, Enforcement Directorate has decided to close the National Herald case, said sources. The ED decided to close the case citing technical reasons.
3. India Today
In a huge relief to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to close the National Herald case against the two. Sources told India Today that ED is likely to close the inquiry in the case against the Congress leaders due to the lack of substantial evidence against them.
4. Zee News (With PTI inputs)
In major relief for the Congress party, the Enforcement Directorate may close the National Herald case, as per media reports on Monday. Reports cited sources as saying that the ED had decided to close the case of now-defunct English daily due to technical reasons
Anyone reading the above reports and other similar ones would draw the following conclusion:
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was investigating a case against the Gandhis in the National Herald scam. ED has now decided to “close” this case against them citing “technical reasons or due to the lack of substantial evidence”. This would be a “huge relief” for the Gandhis.
And most people did interpret it this way. There was widespread dismay among BJP supporters for going soft on Gandhis by closing a case which was running. The few remaining Congress supporters rejoiced and AAP fans jumped in glee trying to embarass BJP supporters. But as usual, the truth is not what the media reported.
The truth in this matter is revealed from the main person involved in nailing the Gandhis: Subramanian Swamy. He wrote 2 letters to the Prime Minister regarding the ED and the National Herald case, and also tweeted some facts about the same.
In his letter, Swamy makes it crystal clear that in July 2014, based on a summons issued to the Gandhis, Swamy had “approached the ED and sought to register a PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) case of money laundering against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi“. According to Swamy, in May 2015, the ED responded saying “there was no case made out for registering a PMLA case“.
From reading the above letters, many facts come up:
1. Contrary to media reports no case of National Herald was running with the ED hence the question of “closing a case” does not even arise. (This has been confirmed by Swamy on Twitter multiple times.)
2. The only “relief” given to Gandhis, is the fact that ED has refused to file a PMLA case, which as per Swamy is “temporary”.
3. The refusal to file a PMLA case by the ED, was reportedly on “technical grounds” and not “due to the lack of substantial evidence” as reported by media. Swamy has also said the ED held it too early to register a case. This is substantiated by the Swamy’s letter and could also explain why Swamy says ED not registering a PMLA case is “temporary”
Further buttressing the above arguments is the fact that Arun Jaitley who also heads the ED by virtue of being Finance Minister, has said categorically that:
A. There is no truth to media reports of an Enforcement Directorate inquiry in the National Herald Case.
B. The National Herald (probably referring to the IPC case) case is prima facie a very strong case.
In short, media has grossly misreported this entire incident, by not understanding nor highlighting the difference between:
1. The existing case in Courts vs the Enforcement Directorate case
2. A case under IPC (which is running and has not been affected) vs a case under PMLA
3. Refusal on technical grounds vs “Huge relief”
Another aspect of this entire episode is while the ED is giving technical reasons (which Swamy feels are “bogus”), Swamy is alleging ulterior motives. He claims that the present ED Director, a UPA appointee serving his 2nd extension, “is a close relative of Digvijay Singh” and hence “seems to have no interest in pursuing any matter connected with Congress party”.
In summary, it is fair to say the Media has been dishonest with us (again), no existing cases against Gandhis have been dropped, they may have got a “temporary” reprieve under PMLA, and it must be ensured that once the “technical” grounds are cleared, a PMLA case (if applicable) is registered by the ED.