National Herald is a now defunct newspaper that was established by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938.
In 2012, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed a complaint before a trial court accusing Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of masterminding a scam of epic proportions to acquire property worth crores in a fraudulent manner.
Among other accused are Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, general secretary Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda.
From left to right: Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda, and Motilal Vora.
On November 18 in 2012, Swamy wrote in detail about the matter in a long Facebook post
He pointed out that Sonia and Rahul hold 38 per cent shares each in Young Indian Private Ltd, a front company that acquired the Associated Journals Limited – which published the National Herald – and its assets and liabilities.
Swamy also wrote that when Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination papers in 2009, he did not disclose his shares in AJPL.
Swamy had explained in simple words the step-by-step way the Gandhi’s allegedly acquired the properties at a throwaway price.
Step 1: AJPL obtains an unsecured zero interest loan of Rs.90 plus crore from the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 2011 with no stated purpose. Section 13A of the Income Tax Act, read with Section 29 A to C of the Representation of the People Act, prohibits any political party from giving loans to commercial or related enterprises. Note: Motilal Vora is president of AJPL, which received the loan; he is Treasurer of AICC which gave the loan; and he is also a shareholder and Director in Young Indian, the prospective buyer of AJPL! Step 2: Young Indian enters the picture with a proposal made by Young Indian Director Motilal Vora to AJPL president Motilal Vora that he would speak to AICC treasurer Motilal Vora to unburden AJPL of the loans due to AICC by a financial derivative of transfer of liability to Young Indian. Step 3: AJPL, acting on a mere Board Resolution dated February 20, 2012, and not by a Shareholders Meeting, sells by transfer of shares to Young Indian for a mere Rs.50 lakh. Before buying AJPL, Rahul Gandhi transfers 262,411 of his three lakh shares in AJPL to sister Priyanka. Step 4:
The seven-storey Herald House is now securely with Young Indian. (It is) illegally opened…for renting. A Passport Seva Kendra rents a large space of two floors. Huge, six months’ rent is collected by Young Indian from multinational companies which are soon to start offices in Herald House.
Swamy alleges that the entire deal was to grab the Rs.1,600-crore worth Herald House and other properties in Delhi, and another Rs.3,400 crore in different parts of UP, Maharasthra, and MP.
It was done by Young Indian for a mere Rs.50 lakh payment.
Then he highlights why the entire transaction is illegal.
1. The deal is a sham, bogus, and a violation of several laws including Companies, the Income-Tax Act, Indian Penal Code Sections 405-08, 420, 467, and 193, Election Law, and Government Residence Allotment Rules. 2. The un-built on land in Mumbai, Indore, Bhopal, Punchkula, Lucknow etc., etc., has been illegally sold to builders of luxury skyscrapers, malls, and housing for Congress Ministers. This is a violation of the land allotment orders and a criminal breach of trust. 3. Young Indian filed statements with the RoC in March 2012, disclosing that the shareholders meetings were held in Sonia Gandhi’s government-allotted 10, Janpath. This is in violation of the law, since 10, Janpath, New Delhi, is government-provided accommodation which cannot be used for commercial purposes and business. 4. More than 80 per cent of the persons mentioned in the 2011 shareholders’ list filed with the RoC are deceased, such prominent persons such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sharda Prasad, and GD Birla, as also some defunct Kolkata-based companies. Hence the Board Meeting of AJPL handing over the company to Young Indian is a violation of the Companies Act and is an offence as well as a fraud on the public.
On June 26, 2014, the court summoned all the accused. The court had then observed that “it appears that YI was in fact created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use”. The trial court had asked all accused to appear before it on August 7, 2014. But on July 30, 2014, Congress leaders obtained a stay on it from the High Court. On Monday, however, the High Court, after dismissing another appeal by the Congress leaders on the ground that the case “evidenced criminality”, directed the defendants, including Sonia Gandhi, to appear before the lower court on December 19.