With the petitioner Subramanian Swamy on Saturday starting to submit evidence, the politically sensitive National Herald case entered a critical stage. Several times a battery of lawyers for the Congress were objecting to the points submitted by Swamy when he was giving oral evidence by stating the crux of the case before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal.
Swamy informed the Court that he came to know about the irregularities in running the National Herald newspaper publisher company Associated Journals Limited (AJL) from the late journalist Bhushan Raina, who was the union leader of journalists who worked at the newspaper. Raina told him that journalists were facing salary dues from 2008 onwards.
During the 2011 period, Swamy said he came to know that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi floated the controversial firm Young Indian. He pointed out that he got curious when Young Indian, a small firm with a capital of just five lakh rupees acquired Associated Journals Limited, a firm of 71 years of working with huge land assets across the country. Swamy said that he also noticed that Passport Office and Tata Consultancy office boards also at the Herald House, located in the Press Enclave Area, ITO in Delhi.
Swamy pointed out that as per the landmark Supreme Court Judgment Indian Express Vs Union of India, this Press Enclave Area is allotted to newspaper publishing firms by the Government at a very subsidised rate. “Therefore, I tried to make enquires, how Herald House belonging to AJL ( Associated Journal Limited) could be renting out the premises directly or indirectly to non-newspaper, commercial or government offices,” he said.
The petition also said the second accused and Congress President Rahul Gandhi in an email query to Pioneer newspaper journalist J Gopikrishnan wrote that they have no plans to revive National Herald newspaper. Swamy’s this submission was objected to by the Congress lawyers, arguing that his point is objected on the ground of admissibility.
“Thereafter, I made further enquiries and found that the method by which AJL ended up as a subsidiary of Young India (YI) was most curious,” said Swamy. This was also objected to by the Congress lawyers saying this was only an opinion of Swamy. The BJP leader countered that he will produce all the documents in the end after submitting his statements as evidence.
Another submission of Swamy accused that Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda are “undeniably close advisors” of the main accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were vehemently objected to by the Congress lawyers, saying this was only Swamy’s opinion.
Swamy stated that with just five lakh capital, the newly floated firm Young Indian had acquired 99.1% of the AJL by a claim of settlement by Young Indian of dues of Rs.90 crores by AJL to Congress party. He said this is the crux of the cheating and conspiracy charges in his case and he will produce all documentary evidence to all the submission of evidence made by him. After the 30 minutes long submission, the Court posted the next hearing for the continuation of evidence to August 25. After Swamy’s submission of evidence, he will be cross-examined in length by a battery of Congress lawyers led by Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi representing all the seven accused.
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