In the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) case, a significant observation was made by the Delhi High Court in its verdict pronounced on the 28th of February. The verdict was initially reserved on the 18th of February.
In its verdict, the Court reaffirmed its earlier judgment and dismissed AJL’s appeal against the order to vacate its premises at the Herald House. The conclusions drawn by the Judges in the verdict in the current case certainly sheds a lot of light in the National Herald scam where Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother, Sonia Gandhi, are accused.
In its verdict, the Court said that “we have no hesitation in holding that the entire transaction of transferring the shares of AJL to Young India was nothing but, as held by the learned writ Court, a clandestine and surreptitious transfer of the lucrative interest in the premises to Young India.”
The Court observed further that “the so called innocent or legal and permissible transaction as canvassed before us, in our considered view, is not so simple or straight forward as put before us, but it only indicates the dishonest and fraudulent design behind such a transaction”.
Associate Journals Limited (AJL), which publishes Congress’ mouthpiece National Herald was sent a notice by Ministry of Urban Development on 30th October stating that the lease is being ended and they are to vacate the premises before November 15, after the Union Ministry had found that there were severe violations by the AJL.
The AJL controlled ‘Herald House’ is not currently being used for the specified purpose of printing the newspaper, which was the primary condition of leasing the land to the publisher at a highly nominal rate. The order had stated that the publishers would face action under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act,1971 if they fail to comply with the evacuation notice.
National Herald scam is one of the most notable legal cases in Indian history, as the Gandhis are directly accused. The Mother-Son duo of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and former party president Sonia Gandhi, along with their aides – Oscar Fernandez, Motilal Vohra and Sam Pithroda are alleged to have involved in massive ‘cheating and breach of trust’ in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL), as assets worth crores of rupees had been allegedly transferred for purposes other than originally intended for a paltry sum. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi got unconditional bail in the case in December 2015.