National Herald case: No wrongful gain or loss in loan to AJL

New Delhi, (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s lawyer Kapil Sibal told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that there was “no wrongful gain or loss” in the party assigning the Rs.90 crore loan against Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald, to Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL) for Rs.50 lakh.

There were allegations of cheating against Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in the acquisition of the AJL by the YIL. The allegations against Gandhis were that the AJL had received an interest-free loan of Rs.90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to the YIL for Rs.50 lakh.

Sibal said due to the emotional attachment with the AJL, as it was supported by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi during the Quit India movement, the Congress helped it by issuing loans amounting to Rs.90 crore over a period of 50 years.

He said the summons issued against Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi by a trial court in connection with the acquisition of the AJL by the YIL were illegal.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, however, contended that the Congress leaders had betrayed the central government as well as various state governments by getting prime land on concessional rates on the pretext of running a publication, and instead using the same for building malls or renting them out for commercial gain.

The court, after hearing the arguments of both parties, asked for documents used as pre-summoning evidence by the trial court, prior to summoning the Congress leaders as accused.

The high court has posted the matter for September 3.

Apart from the Gandhis, Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, their family friend Suman Dubey and Congress leader Oscar Fernandes have moved the high court, seeking to quash the summons issued to them by the trial court on a complaint by Swamy.

Swamy also alleged that the AJL had received an interest free loan of Rs.90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to the YIL for Rs.50 lakh.

At the time, the AJL, which had Vora as its chairman, claimed that it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL.

The trial court on June 26, 2014, issued summons to the Congress leaders on a complaint by Swamy, who alleged cheating in the acquisition of the AJL by the YIL – “a firm in which Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake”.

The Congress leaders said Swamy was a political opponent and the criminal proceedings were initiated only with the intent to secure some political objective.

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