Having lost in the lower courts, the defunct National Herald newspaper publisher Associated Journals Limited (AJL) approached the Supreme Court against the eviction from its headquarters Herald House, accusing the ruling party BJP’ of having a “pathological animus” towards the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. AJL, which is owned by the top Congress leadership was slammed by the Delhi High Court on February 28 and ordered to leave the Herald House. AJL: is now facing the Urban Development Ministry’s final notice on March 1 of eviction from the premises for serious frauds and violations committed in the garb of advantages given to media firms.
This is the last chance for AJL to object to the eviction from Herald House.
“This court may be pleased to take judicial notice that the principal political party of the incumbent ruling coalition dispensation at the Centre viz the BJP (in its present form since 1980 and in its earlier avatar – the Bharatiya Jana Sangh since 1951) harbours a pathological animus to the ideas of Indian’s first Prime Minister – Pandit Nehru, whom they incessantly and viciously accuse of creation of a secular democratic republic where people of all faiths have equal protection and equal access under the Constitution,” the plea filed by AJL in the apex court said.
Terming the eviction proceedings before the single-judge bench and double-judge bench in High Court as biased and malafide, the AJL in its appeal said that its publication espouses the ideology of the Congress party, which is presently the largest opposition party in the country.
“The eviction proceedings have been initiated for the purposes of scuttling the voice of democratic dissent of the Congress Party. It is a clear affront to the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and a deliberate attempt to suppress and destroy the legacy of the first Prime Minister of the country i. e. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the guiding light for the publications of the petitioner-company,” it said.
The Division Bench of High Court, comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao outlined all frauds committed by the Sonia Gandhi-and-Rahul Gandhi-controlled firm Young Indian for dubiously acquiring AJL and controlling its huge land assets across the country worth more than Rs.5000 crores. The 63-page Judgment detailed the various illegalities, ratifying the December 2018 Judgment of Justice Sunil Gaur ordering the eviction of Herald House by the Urban Development Ministry. The Division Bench took note of the fact that AJL has been taken over by Young Indian Company for all practical purposes. It said: “This Court is conscious of the fact that Young Indian Company is a charitable company, but modus operandi was to acquire 99% of AJL’s shares speaks volumes. The manner in which it has been done is also questionable.”
The scathing observation by the Division Bench totally vindicates the first criminal case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. AJL was represented by Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Singhvi and the Urban Development Ministry by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. In the judgment, the Court observed that on many occasions, AJL did not answer properly and tried to hide the facts. Upholding the single bench view that the entire transaction of transferring the shares of AJL to Young India was nothing but a clandestine and surreptitious transfer of the lucrative interest in the premises to Young India, the bench observed that with just Rs.50 lakhs, Sonia and Rahul controlled the Young Indian became the owners of more than Rs.400 crores worth owners of Herald House.
This is the last chance for AJL to object to the eviction from Herald House. Already, the final appeal against the Income Tax Order exposing the Rs.413 crores fine for asset-grabbing by Sonia and Rahul is before the Supreme Court. In the main case, the cross-examination of Subramanian Swamy by Congress lawyers is set to resume on March 30.