1
National Herald Case
ET- 14 Dec, 2015,
 How much were Associated Journals' seven properties
worth?
NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: ...
2
Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in Delhi, with 100,000 sq ft of built-up space
spread over five floors. According to conservative...
3
Church Mission Birkett High School on it before Associated Journals
acquired it.
A property broker said this is the hear...
4
letter to do so as the plot was allotted for a different purpose," he said.
The Bandra property is valued at about Rs. 3...
5
A company was created for the purpose of starting a newspaper
“National Herald‟. The company got allocation of prime lan...
6
7
Here are some key facts about the National Herald case, which has placed
the Gandhis squarely in the eye of a storm:
-Th...
8
ED director Rajan S Katoch was removed from service after the reports to
that effect surfaced. In September, the ED deci...
9
New Delhi: Escalating its attack on the Congress over the National Herald
case, the BJP has brought out a booklet titled...
10
New Delhi: The Congress seems to have changed its legal tactic and
adopted a combative strategy in the National Herald ...
11
Subramanian Swamy, the Scarlet Pimpernel of Indian politics has proved to
be the harbinger of bad times for more than o...
12
Swamy has alleged that YIL has paid just Rs50 lakh to obtain the right to
recover Rs90.25 crore loan the AJL owed to th...
13
It has redoubled efforts to disrupt Parliament. This means that crucial
legislation such as the ones relating to GST an...
14
Bihar, the Congress, happens to be the only all-India party in that front
providing it with the “political glue” to bin...
15
parted ways thereafter and the Congress won just four of West Bengal‟s 42
seats in last year‟s Lok Sabha elections. Is ...
16
subscribers and signatories to the memorandum of Association of the
„Associated Journals Limited (AJL)‟.The company tha...
17
conversion of debt into equity is a normal business practice to restore the
financial health of companies that are over...
18
its debt, and otherwise unresponsive to revival in the prevailing market
conditions. Political Parties in India are und...
19
Since the ascension of BJP to power in 2014, there is a growing
intolerance to dissent in a democratic framework. For s...
20
Filing the plea, Congress leaders insisted that Swamy is a political
opponent, insisting that the present criminal proc...
of 20

National herald story now

A Case that is to be fought thru Courts and a political Drama of 2016, Happy New Year !
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: News & Politics      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - National herald story now

  • 1. 1 National Herald Case ET- 14 Dec, 2015,  How much were Associated Journals' seven properties worth? NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: Amid the controversy raging over ownership of Associated Journals Ltd, the company that owns National Herald, Navjeevan and Qaumi Awaz newspapers, estimates of the company's prime properties ranging from Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 5,000 crore have been doing the rounds. Get a realistic valuation of the seven properties located in Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Patna, Indore, Bhopal and Panchkula. Several property brokers and top real estate consultants help estimate in these cities. Experts pegged value of these properties at about Rs 1,150 crore, as per conservative estimates. Controversy erupted after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy alleged irregularities in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd by Young Indian Ltd, a section 25 nonprofit private company. Delhi High Court in a recent order dismissed a plea by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Vice- president Rahul Gandhi to quash summons issued against them by a trial court. They now have to appear before the court on December 19. Swamy has said that the Gandhis hold 76 per cent stake in Young Indian. All seven of the company's properties are located in prime locations. The biggest among these in terms of both value and size is the one on
  • 2. 2 Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in Delhi, with 100,000 sq ft of built-up space spread over five floors. According to conservative estimates by real estate experts, this property may well be worth Rs 300-400 crore. Two floors in the building are leased to the ministry of external affairs, which has been running the Passport Seva Kendra since 2012. Two floors are occupied by TCS to process passport applications. The top floor has been kept empty for use by Young Indian. The building currently generates about Rs 7 crore as rent every year. While the Delhi edition of National Herald started from this building in 1968, the paper was established by Jawaharlal Nehru in Lucknow way back in 1938. The property in Lucknow, in the historic Kaiserbagh area of the city, used to publish three newspapers - National Herald in English, Navjeevan in Hindi and Qaumi Awaz in Urdu. The two-acre property has two buildings, Nehru Bhawan and Nehru Manzil, which are spread over 35,000 sq ft. One part today houses the Indira Gandhi Eye Hospital and Research Centre, run by the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. The property originally had
  • 3. 3 Church Mission Birkett High School on it before Associated Journals acquired it. A property broker said this is the heart of Lucknow, with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati's property next to it. K Vikram Rao, president of Indian Federation of Working Journalist, senior journalist and son of K Rama Rao, the first editor of National Herald, said plots were given by Congress governments for the purpose of running newspapers, at throwaway prices and now their market value is much higher. The three newspapers that Associated Journals ran shut down in 1999 after facing troubles for almost a decade. Some properties, however, were never used for the intended purpose. In Mumbai, the paper had been given a 3,478 sq metre plot in Bandra along the Western Express Highway. This is a large plot by Mumbai standards. This land was given in 1983 for publishing a daily newspaper and to set up the Nehru Library and Research Centre. Instead, an 11-storey commercial office building stands constructed on the plot. "As per rules, the work on the said plot for the designated purpose should have started within three years of allotment. However, the construction started in 2014 and that too for a commercial building, with 14 offices and 135 car parks in total," said Anil Galgali, a Mumbai based Right to Information activist who has written to chief ministers of Maharashtra thrice since 2013 to take the plot back. "I had written twice to Prithviraj Chavan, then chief minister of Maharashtra to take the plot back. I have also recently urged current chief minister Devendra Fadnavis through a
  • 4. 4 letter to do so as the plot was allotted for a different purpose," he said. The Bandra property is valued at about Rs. 300 crore on the basis of its commercial development potential of over one lakh sq ft of office space. Similar is the case with the one acre property in Patna's Adalatganj area which has been lying vacant since it was given to the paper. Over the past few years, the plot has been illegally occupied by slums that the company has been trying to clear up. Associated Journals' newspapers used to operate out of a leased space on Exhibition Road while the allotted land remained empty, said media watchers in Patna. But even an acre of vacant land in this part of the city would be worth Rs 50-60 crore, said a property broker who operates in the area. With the attendant buildings, it will be worth about Rs 100 crore. An older property broker in the area recalled that some part of the property was converted into shops which were sold off a few years ago. The 3,360 sq metre plot in Panchkula that stands in the prime Sector 6, opposite the Haryana Police headquarters, is Associated Journals' latest addition.
  • 5. 5 A company was created for the purpose of starting a newspaper “National Herald‟. The company got allocation of prime land in several parts of the country. The land was meant to be used for the newspaper business. Today, there is no newspaper. There is only land and built up structures which are being commercially exploited. Effectively, the Section 25 Company substantially controlled by the leaders of the Congress Party now owns all the properties acquired for a newspaper publication. And for virtually no consideration, the Section 25 Company owns all the assets. This profit will become huge taxable income for it. Tax exempted income is used for a non-exempted purpose. They have transferred the income of a political party to a real estate company. The Criminal Court, meanwhile, has taken cognizance of the offence. The High Court has agreed with the Trial Court. The battle has to be fought legally. About the Vyapam, Lalit Modi and other controversies involving two BJP chief ministers and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, it may be inquired whether the prosecuting agencies are going ahead and investigations are progressing?
  • 6. 6
  • 7. 7 Here are some key facts about the National Herald case, which has placed the Gandhis squarely in the eye of a storm: -The National Herald was a newspaper that India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru helped set in pre-Independence India in the year 1938. It was part of a company called Associated Journals Limited, which was funded by the Congress. An article in Mint quotes a biographer of Nehru as saying that he found himself being unable to make an impact on the 'reactionary tendencies' in the Congress, after which the National Herald was started. However, as the article pointed out, it faced financial difficulties throughout its existence. The newspaper officially closed down in April 2008. -According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a private non-profit company 'Young Indian' was formed in March 2011, with Sonia and Rahul holding 38 percent of the shares each, allegedly with the specific aim of taking over the liabilities of AJL. In 2012, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint before a court. Swamy accused Congress leaders of being involved in cheating through the acquisition of AJL by Young Indian Pvt Ltd. He alleged that YIL paid merely Rs 50 lakh to recover an amount of Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to the Congress. Going by the current value of the properties of National Herald, the scam could be to the tune of anywhere between Rs 1,600 crore and Rs 5,000 crore. -The case has seen several twists and turns in the recent past. In August, reports had suggested that the ED had decided to close the case, citing lack of substantive evidence against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. However,
  • 8. 8 ED director Rajan S Katoch was removed from service after the reports to that effect surfaced. In September, the ED decided to report the case. The Delhi High Court has now rejected the plea filed by the Gandhis challenging the summons, which means that they will have to appear before the court unless the order is set aside. As of now, a Delhi court has asked them to appear on 19 December and exempted them from personal appearances on 8 December. BJP booklet on NH issue "It will give our leaders basic information about the issue and help them in explaining the stand of party as well the government. It will also give our spokespersons and leaders various talking points so that they could highlight them in debates and discussion," he said. The BJP has resorted to bringing out booklets on almost every major issue since it came to power in May 2014. The Congress had accused the Central government of practicing "vendetta politics" and has alleged that the National Herald case against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is part of the conspiracy. The party has brought out booklets on a host of issues, including Land Acquisition Bill, intolerance debate and the recent debate on Constitution.
  • 9. 9 New Delhi: Escalating its attack on the Congress over the National Herald case, the BJP has brought out a booklet titled 'Family Greed and National Blackmail' that aims to "inform" its party leaders about the issue. The party will distribute the booklet, which is a compilation of a number of write-ups on the issue, among its MPs and leaders across the country to "inform" them on the issue and give them "talking points", BJP parliamentary party office secretary Balasubrahmanyam Kamarsu said. "It will give our leaders basic information about the issue and help them in explaining the stand of party as well the government. It will also give our spokespersons and leaders various talking points so that they could highlight them in debates and discussion," he said. The BJP has resorted to bringing out booklets on almost every major issue since it came to power in May 2014. The Congress had accused the Central government of practicing "vendetta politics" and has alleged that the National Herald case against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is part of the conspiracy. The party has brought out booklets on a host of issues, including Land Acquisition Bill, intolerance debate and the recent debate on Constitution.
  • 10. 10 New Delhi: The Congress seems to have changed its legal tactic and adopted a combative strategy in the National Herald case. Sources have revealed that Congress brass has decided that both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul will appear before the lower court. The reverse stand came in less than 24 hours after it approached the Supreme Court to get a stay on personal appearance. The tactical shift indicated that Congress wants to take the bull by its horns than letting its opponents set the agenda for it. Meanwhile, the case continues to rock Parliament. In Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of manipulating the Herald case. In the Lower House, there was a war of words between Congress's Mallikarjun Kharge and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. While Kharge alleged that government is indulging in vendetta politics, Naidu accused the Congress of threatening judiciary through Parliament. The scene was no different outside Parliament as Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi accused the Prime Minister's office of political vendetta and claimed that the Centre was threatening the judiciary.
  • 11. 11 Subramanian Swamy, the Scarlet Pimpernel of Indian politics has proved to be the harbinger of bad times for more than one political heavyweight. Ask the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa Jayaram. She‟s the first sitting chief minister in the country to be disqualified from holding office after her conviction in a disproportionate assets case by a Karnataka court in September last year. Jayalalithaa suffered the ignominy of going to jail but was reinstated when the conviction was set aside by the Karnataka High Court in May this year. However, that tale‟s not fully told since an appeal in the Supreme Court against the HC decision could well turn the tables against Jayalalithaa once again. Subramanian Swamy filed that case in 1996. In September 2010 the Supreme Court was petitioned in seeking the prosecution of then Telecom Minister A Raja in something famously became the 2G case. It was none other than the ebullient Subramanian Swamy who had moved the Supreme Court. Subramanian Swamy filed the National Herald case in 2012. Accusing Congress leaders of cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), Publishers of National Herald, by Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL),Swamy contended that the “take over” was done in a malicious manner to gain profit. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi are directors in YIL. Besides the Gandhis, Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, general secretary Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda were also named in the case.
  • 12. 12 Swamy has alleged that YIL has paid just Rs50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs90.25 crore loan the AJL owed to the Congress party. He says the Rs 90.25 crores owing to the Congress Party could easily be paid off by partial sale of assets. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi own 76 per cent of YIL. The complaint has also alleged that the loan, taken from party funds and given to AJL, was “illegal”. The Congress says that no director of YIL has derived any financial benefit from either the company or its dealings with AJL. It further claims that all the assets and income of AJL continue to remain with the company and not gone to YIL, YIL directors or YIL shareholders. By advancing Rs 50 lakhs to AJL and taking over the responsibility of recovering the Rs 90 crore debt, YIL had effectively wiped out AJL‟s debt enabling it to raise bank loans to refurbish its properties or build on them to increase its income. The legal merits of the case will be decided by the courts although that‟s likely to take a long time going by past experience. Meanwhile, both sides say the case has been “politicised.” The Congress claims that the Enforcement Directorate (ED)closed its case investigations in August this year “because there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. But the then ED Director was sacked and just a month later in September 2015 the case was reopened.” The Congress alleges that senior BJP leaders “have made frequent and partisan pronouncements in the media — a clear attempt to influence public opinion and tarnish the reputation of the Congress Party and its leadership on a false pretext.”
  • 13. 13 It has redoubled efforts to disrupt Parliament. This means that crucial legislation such as the ones relating to GST and Land Acquisition will remain in cold storage. The BJP has retaliated by accusing the Congress of defending the indefensible. Whatever else it may be, the National Herald case is clearly “political.” Anything that Subramanian Swamy touches, apart from his morning idlis and forenoon thayir sadam, has to be political and so is this case. It could upset the anti-BJP applecart in the coming months. Of course, the reverse also could well be true. The anti-BJP formation that swept the Bihar assembly elections last month owes much to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. True, the Congress came in a distant fourth in that election but Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were crucial to bringing together the irresistible Lalu Yadav and the immovable Nitish Kumar. Without their earnest efforts, the unity wouldn‟t have been possible. Evidently it is Sonia Gandhi who convinced Lalu Yadav not only to team up with Nitish but also to allow him to play “first fiddle” in the concert! It stands to reason therefore that anything that could adverse impact the Gandhis would be a major setback to the functioning of an anti-BJP electoral front: precisely what the National Herald case could achieve. Assembly elections are due in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Puducherry and Assam where the terms of the present legislatures are ending in May and June next year. The Congress in general and the Gandhis in particular need to perform superlatively in these elections in order to keep the post-Bihar momentum going. Though a junior partner in
  • 14. 14 Bihar, the Congress, happens to be the only all-India party in that front providing it with the “political glue” to bind it together and attract other regional allies in untapped states such as UP, Odisha, Seemandhra and Telengana. Any decline in the Congress‟ fortunes is likely to affect the entire block adversely. The National Herald Case could severely tarnish the image of the Gandhis and hurt the entire anti-BJP front Kerala and Tamil Nadu don‟t really count in this calculation. The former famously votes alternately for the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the CPM-led Left Democratic Front. The latter is witness to a two-horse race between Jayalalithaa‟s AIADMK and the DMK led by M Karunanidhi and son MK Stalin. West Bengal and Assam could prove significant. The Congress has been in power in Assam for three consecutive terms. A strong anti-incumbency wave coupled with a resurgent BJP could spell doom for the Congress in Assam. Recent elections have been more than unkind to the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo. Having lost Delhi ignominiously soon after winning India and then trounced in Bihar, the duo are battling for one famous victory to redeem themselves. And Assam is that battleground. Modi has set a target, “Mission 84” to win those many seats in the 126 strong State Assembly. He has ensured that at least one of his Central Ministers visits Assam every week. The National Herald “ghotala” would be grist to Modi‟s electoral rhetoric. West Bengal could prove interesting. The Congress opted to contest the 2011 Assembly elections as a junior partner of Mamata Banerjee‟s Trinamool Congress, winning 42 of the states 294 assembly seats. The two
  • 15. 15 parted ways thereafter and the Congress won just four of West Bengal‟s 42 seats in last year‟s Lok Sabha elections. Is it possible that the two will reunite once again? That could perhaps be the silver lining for the Congress. However the long shadow of the Herald case could well put paid to all of this. Not too many will be prepared to take a chance if the image of the Gandhi‟s gets tarnished any further, and this time Manmohan Singh won‟t be eligible to play the fall guy. National Herald Case: Is There An Oblique Political Objective By The BJP? By George Abraham 15 December, 2015 Countercurrents.org India is once again in the throes of another political storm of great magnitude that threatens not only to setback the current legislative agenda of the Parliament‟s winter session but may also permanently fracture the trust needed for future consensus among political parties to conduct the nation‟s business. The National Herald case has all the familiar hallmarks of a political mud fight rather than the true ingredients needed to prove any alleged impropriety and/or violation of laws. National Herald was started by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937 along with other leaders of the independence movement. Undoubtedly, it was a symbol of this struggle and provided a voice to the freedom movement across the country. In addition to Pandit Nehru, freedom fighters like Purushottam Das Tandon, Acharaya Narendra Dev, and India‟s first Communications Minister, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai were among the first
  • 16. 16 subscribers and signatories to the memorandum of Association of the „Associated Journals Limited (AJL)‟.The company that was published National Herald and later Quami Awaaz and Navjeevan. From its inception, the National Herald was in poor financial health. There were reports to the effect that Mahatma Gandhi originally even opposed the idea of the Congress party owning a newspaper but relented to the wishes of Pandit Nehru and others in the party. The determination of Nehru to carry on with the publication despite the heavy odds against it is quite evident in his statement; “I will not let the National Herald close down even if I have to sell Anand Bhavan.” The Congress party supported AJL until now because of its rich and vibrant legacy associated with the freedom struggle, as well as its inextricable link with the policies and principles of the Indian National Congress. Despite the editorial excellence of the paper, AJL continued to bleed financially and ran into losses year after year. The published records show that AJL received multiple loans adding up to 90 crores from the Congress Party. It has come to a point where no bank would sanction AJL a loan because of the 90 crore debt in its balance sheet, and its benefactor, the Congress Party, had no choice but to rethink its strategies. Towards that end, some of the most eminent experts were consulted, and their considered advice was to form a section 25 not-for-profit company called „Young India‟. Further, in order to bail out AJL and free it from the burden of debt, the loan was reassigned to the not-for-profit company. In so doing, Congress party leaders truly believed that it could rescue and revive Nehruji‟s paper while relieving AJL of its financial distress. In today‟s world,
  • 17. 17 conversion of debt into equity is a normal business practice to restore the financial health of companies that are over-burdened with debt. All shareholders of AJL, who were present and voting on 21st January 2011, approved the advice of the experts unanimously. Meanwhile AJL, now able to borrow money for the first time in years, renovated its Delhi building and rented them at the current market rates. It is believed that these new avenues of income would fund the re-launching of the National Herald in the foreseeable future. Undoubtedly, there are a number of misconceptions promoted by groups intending to tarnish the image of the Congress party. A few things are quite evident upon the examination of this case: 1) the Assets and properties owned by AJL will continue to remain with AJL; 2) no assets have been transferred from AJL to „Young Indian‟; 3) as Directors or Shareholders of „Young Indian‟, Smt. Sonia Gandhi or Shri. Rahul Gandhi is prohibited by law from drawing any financial benefits from the company; 4) At the Extraordinary General meeting in 2011, shareholders were present and unanimously voted to approve the issuance of fresh equity to „Young Indian‟, in order to extinguish the debt of AJL. It is also clear to independent observers that AJL was directed and sustained over the years by a successive leadership of the Congress Party, and this continues to remain the case today. The newly created „Young India‟ also lists the major office holders of the party as its shareholders. In a nutshell, this whole exercise appears to be a major overhaul of an entity within an organization that has become financially burdensome because of
  • 18. 18 its debt, and otherwise unresponsive to revival in the prevailing market conditions. Political Parties in India are under no restriction in giving loans or restructuring their various entities. A complaint along these lines by Subramanian Swamy was dismissed by the Election Commission in 2012. In light of all of these clarifications, why is there still all of this hubbub? BJP, at the outset, would want everyone to believe that it was a case brought up by Subramania Swamy in 2012, and they (the BJP) have very little to do with it! However, this case was reopened by Enforcement Directorate after Rajan S. Katoch, the ED Director, was removed from service after his recommendation to close the case due to lack of evidence against two leaders. In addition, the BJP has already brought out a booklet called „Family Greed and National Blackmail‟ in a deliberate attempt to sully the names of the Congress President and the Vice-President. Kapil Sibal, a senior Congress leader and lead attorney, in this case, said the following: „The BJP, in the last year or so, has been targeting the leaders of the Congress Party. Since they have no idea how to govern the country, they want to distract the attention of people from the promise of good governance. They have targeted the Congress Party president Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and our leaders Virbhadra Singh, who was accosted during his daughter‟s wedding, ShankarsinhVaghela, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. They have filed sedition charges against young people in Gujarat and targeting West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar‟.
  • 19. 19 Since the ascension of BJP to power in 2014, there is a growing intolerance to dissent in a democratic framework. For some in their leadership, a responsible opposition is altogether an inconvenience to the unilateral BJP agenda. Senior BJP leaders who appear to have taken an oath for a „Congress-free Bharat‟, might believe that the top leadership of the Congress party in the Court in an alleged case of cheating and criminal breach of trust makes for bad optics and will help them in their quest to discredit and destroy them politically. There is no doubt then why Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi became their prime targets. Subramanian Swamy is a known operative for the BJP, and his malevolence and hatred towards the Nehru family and anything Nehru touched including the venerable National Herald is well documented. He has long been discredited on these shores for his vitriolic statements against minorities in India, which got him booted out from the prestigious Harvard University in the immediate past. In one of his infamous quotes from 2011, he states „implement the uniform civil code, make learning Sanskrit and singing Vande Mataram mandatory, and declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus. Rename India Hindustan as a nation of Hindus and those ancestors were Hindus”. In his view of the world, Smt. Sonia Gandhi or any other foreigners our sons or daughters may marry will be permanently relegated to second-class citizenship. Unfortunately, his demagoguery and bigotry come in handy for the BJP in its stealth campaign to undo the Nehruvian legacy.
  • 20. 20 Filing the plea, Congress leaders insisted that Swamy is a political opponent, insisting that the present criminal proceedings have been initiated only with intent to secure an oblique political objective! Hopefully, the days ahead may prove just that! (The writer is a former Chief Technology Officer of the United Nations and Chairman of the Indian National Overseas Congress, USA)

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