Chronology of events in the National Herald case

In brief, the National Herald money laundering case seems to be a culmination of a complex and intricate series of company laws and share transfers.

New Delhi: The Congress leaders are furious over the Centre’s alleged vendetta politics, especially with regard to the Gandhi family.

The Congress regularly accuses the BJP-led government at the Centre of using the central probe agencies to ‘settle’ political scores, especially in the National Herald case which is directly linked to the Gandhi family.

But is it really vendetta politics? What is the National Herald case in which both former and current presidents of the party have been grilled by the Enforcement Directorate?

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In brief, the National Herald money laundering case seems to be a culmination of a complex and intricate series of company laws and share transfers.

The genesis of the controversy lies in the acquisition of shares of the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) on January 26, 2011.

The AJL was incorporated as a public limited company on November 20, 1937 under the Indian Companies Act, 1913, for the purpose of publication of newspapers in different languages. It started publishing newspapers such as ‘National Herald’ in English, ‘Navjivan’ in Hindi and ‘Quami Awaz’ in Urdu.

The publication of newspapers was suspended on various occasions due to financial difficulties and certain labour problems, and on April 2, 2008, it was ultimately shut down.

Properties were allotted for carrying out the newspaper business in different languages. However, AJL was also allowed to let out these properties on rent to cater to its publication business post the closure of the newspapers. On September 1, 2010, the office of AJL was shifted from Lucknow to Delhi at 5A, Herald House, Bahadurshah Zafar Marg.

Amid this chain of events, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) had advanced loans to AJL from time to time.

On March 31, 2010, there was an outstanding loan of Rs 88,86,68,976 (over Rs 88 crore) and a further loan of Rs 1.35 crore was received during the period from April 1, 2010 to December 16, 2010, aggregating to Rs 90.21 crore.

On December 16, 2010, the AICC transferred the entire outstanding loan of Rs 90.21 crore due from AJL in favour of the appellant company, Young Indian, for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh.

Further, almost 99.99 per cent shares of AJL were transferred to Young Indian. On December 13, 2010, in the first managing committee meeting of Young Indian, Rahul Gandhi was appointed as its Director.

On January 22, 2011, a fresh allotment of the shares of Young Indian was made, in which 1,900 shares, having a paid-up value of Rs 1,90,000, were granted to Rahul Gandhi and 1,350 shares with a paid-up amount of Rs 1,35,000 in the name of Sonia Gandhi, among other shareholders.

In order to fulfil its objective of acquiring 100 per cent shares of AJL, Rahul Gandhi, along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, purchased additional shares amounting to 47,513 and 2,62,411, through Ratan Deep Trust and Janhit Nidhi Trust, respectively, without complying with the provisions of the Companies Act.

In a nutshell, the National Herald case pertains to the assignment of a Rs 90 crore loan advanced by the Congress to Young Indian for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh, and alleged misappropriation of assets of over Rs 2,000 crore.

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