Highlights

  • National Herald is published by the Associated Journals Limited
  • Jawaharlal Nehru along with 5000 other freedom fighters set up AJL
  • The Congress has been embroiled in a case which alleges fraud in acquisition of National Herald

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What is the National Herald case — a video explainer

Explaining the row behind the National Herald case in which the Enforcement Directorate has summoned Sonia and Rahul Gandhi 

“Yet the past is ever with us and all that we are and that we have comes from the past. We are its products and we live immersed in it” ― Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India

What is the National Herald case?

Perhaps it was this thought, that pushed our first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru to launch the Associated Journals ten years before India attained freedom at midnight.

A year later, the Associated Journals, which was a public limited company, published National Herald newspaper for the first time.

From chronicling India’s independence movement to facing accusations of being a Congress mouthpiece, the publication shut shop in 2008 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power.

Two years later, the Congress in a bid to revive the defunct newspaper formed a not-for-profit company, called the Young India Ltd with UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi owning the majority share.

The ostensible reason for setting up the new public company being the revival of the National Herald, the Congress argued that the resurrection was needed as the publication had played a significant role in the freedom movement.

WATCH | Sonia, Rahul Gandhi get ED summon in National Herald case which was shut in 2015

So how did the Congress plan the revival of National Herald and why are the probe agencies calling it a scam.

Over a period of time, the grand old party had loaned Rupees 90 crore to the Associated Journals—just for a recap the entity Nehru founded to launch National Herald and Qaumi Awaz.

After its creation in 2010, the Congress transferred this loan to Young India Ltd-- recall Sonia and Rahul own majority share of this company.

As the Associated Journal was a ship at the bottom of a tumultuous sea, unsurprisingly it could not pay the debt.

The public company formed before the independence could only manage to transfer just Rupees 50 lakh to Sonia and Rahul’s Young India ltd. But like the antiques hidden in a sunk ship are of great value, so were the Associated Journal’s prime properties valuing over Rupees 2,000 crores in Delhi, Lucknow and Patna.

Young India ltd took over these assets, therefore Congress took over assets of the defunct firm which was a public limited company. Simply put the Enforcement Directorate argues that Congress shifted assets of a company owned by Indian public to Rahul and Sonia.

So how did the issue reach the court?

In 2012, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a private complaint alleging fraud in the acquisition. The BJP leader said the loan given by Congress to Associated Journals was ‘illegal’ as it was taken from party funds and the Income Tax Act prohibits political organisations from making financial transactions with a third party.

Even the Associated Journal shareholders, who were the descendants of freedom fighters, including former law minister Shanti Bhusan and former high court chief justice Markandey Katju alleged that they had no clue, neither were sent notice when Young India acquired Associated Journal.

A case was then registered and an inquiry opened up against Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, their trusted aide Moti Lal Vohra, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda, Suman Dubey and Oscar Fernandes.

However, the Congress too has a defence.

The grand old party maintains that the Young India was formed with the ‘aim of charity’ and not for profit and that its transactions were not financial but ‘commercial’ in nature.

Also Read | National Herald Case Live Coverage

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