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National Herald Case Explained: Why are Gandhis under scanner?

The case pertains to Rajya Sabha MP and senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's complaint that alleges that the Gandhis were involved in the money laundering. 

National Herald Case Explained: Why are Gandhis under scanner?
New Delhi, First Published Jun 13, 2022, 12:39 PM IST

With senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi entering the Enforcement Directorate office in connection with the National Herald case, the grand old party has hit the streets to carry out a 'Satyagraha' protest in solidarity with him. 

Congress General Secretary and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra along with chief ministers from Rajasthan and Chattishgarh -- Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel -- Digvijay Singh, P Chidambaram, Jairam Thakur, Sachin Pilot, Mukul Wasnik, Gaurav Gogoi and Rajeev Shukla participated in Rahul Gandhi's march from the Congress HQ to the ED office. 

Also Read: 'Voice of truth will not fear intimidating summons': Priyanka on ED summons

The Congress party has been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah of playing vendetta politics with the opposition leaders to silence their voices. The BJP, on the other hand, has maintained that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are on bail. 

"Rahul Gandhi is supposed to appear before the ED. But the Congress is making a huge drama out of it. They are calling all their leaders to Delhi. What is the use of all this drama," party spokesperson Sambit Patra asked.

The case pertains to Rajya Sabha MP and senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's complaint that alleges that the Gandhis were involved in the money laundering. 

Let's know about the National Herald case in detail:

What is the National Herald case?

In 1938, first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru started the National Herald newspaper. It was then being published by Associated Journals Limited. Nehru was also the great grandfather of Rahul Gandhi. AJL was established in the same year with over 5,000 freedom fighters as its shareholders. 

Other than the National Herald, the AJL also used to publish two other dailies -- the Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi. Nehru and other freedom fighters used to be the regular contributors in the newspapers' editorials that antagonised the Britishers, leading the latter to impose a ban on the publications in 1942. 

In 1945, it was reopened. Nehru had to resign from the company after becoming the prime minister in 1947.

With time, the National Herald became one of the leading and most-read newspapers in the country. The Congress party was funding its operations. 

In 2008, the newspaper had to shut its operations due to a financial crisis. However, its digital version was relaunched in 2016. 

What are the allegations against the Gandhis?

In 2012, Subramanian Swamy filed a case against the Gandhis, alleging that the Congress party fund was used to take over AJL to acquire over Rs 2,000 crore in property assets.

When the newspaper was being shut down in 2008, the Congress party had an accumulated debt of Rs 9000 lakh. In 2010, a non-profit organisation -- Young Indian Limited was created and all debt of Rs 9,000 lakh was diverted to this organisation.  

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were on its board of directors and both own 38 per cent of Young Indian Limited. The remaining shares are being owned by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda.

Swamy had alleged in his plea that Young India acquired complete control over AJL and its real estate, situated in New Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and other cities.

Where has the trial reached so far? 

In June 2014, the Metropolitan Court summoned all accused in the case, including the Gandhis. The magistrate said that the complainant had established a prima facie case against the accused under Section 403 (Dishonest Misappropriation of Property), Section 406 (Criminal Breach of Trust) and Section 420 (Cheating) read with Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In 2015, Patiala House Court granted bail to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. They have been out on bail ever since. 

In February 2016, the Supreme Court refused to quash proceedings against the accused. In May 2019, the ED attached National Herald properties worth Rs 16.38 crore.

Also Read | 'Modi government is shaken': Congress take on Rahul Gandhi's ED appearance

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