The National Herald was a newspaper established by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938. It is regarded to have served as Nehru’s mouthpiece and that of the then Congress party in the pre-independence era. The newspaper was run by a company called Associated Journal (AJPL, also a public entity) when it was shut down in 2008. AJPL was later acquired by Young India, a company set up by Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. The Gandhis account for 78% share in Young India.
Subramanian Swamy alleged that the Gandhis have fraudulently acquired AJPL and benefitted to the tune of ~1600 Crores. The below are the key allegations on the case:
- The real estate property was allocated by the Governement to National Herald for the publication and therefore cannot be used for any other purpose. After acqusition by Young India, it is claimed that the property was rented out to retail offices including the Passport centre of New Delhi. A report that also supported this claim was a statement from Rahul Gandhi- that he had no idea to relaunch the paper. Other rental offices in the building include Ministry of External affairs and Tata consultancy services. APJL also owns real estate in Lucknow, Indore among other cities.
- The Indian National Congress also granted an interest-free loan of Rs. 90 Crore to AJPL. The repayment of loan is also claimed to violate several Income tax laws. It is also to be noted that it is illegal for any political party to lend money for commercial purposes. The claim is that there is no rationale to the transfer of funds and this acted as the cover for siphoning funds for the party.
- The 90 Crore loan to AJPL shifted to Young India during transfer of ownership for a mere 50 lakh Rupees. Writing off such a huge debt also attracted fraud claims.
- The original shareholders of AJPL and their heirs are also alleged to have been marginalized and excluded. Aside a few lobbyists and aides of the Gandhis, none of the other people are stakeholders in Young India. The list includes many freedom fighters and ex-congressmen.
- In a filed statement of Young India, it is reported that a shareholder meeting was held at 10, Janpath. It is also a violation of law to hold commercial purpose meetings in a Government accommodation.
- In an election affidavit to declare assets owned, Rahul Gandhi has also not mentioned his 38% stake in Young India.
- Young India is also registered as a not-for-profit organization (section 25 status). Profiting from commercial rental income would also lead to disqualification of the status.
- The timeline on the court proceedings, notices and dismissals is a separate answer in itself. Will get to it in sometime.