A court here on Thursday summoned Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald land grab case. The Patiala House Court issued summons to Sonia and Rahul to appear before it on August 7.
Metropolitian magistrate Gomati Manocha, while issuing the summons, said: "I have found prima facie evidence against all the accused. The court has directed them to appear before it on August 7."
Apart from Sonia and Rahul, the court also issued summons to five other Congress leaders including Oscar Fernandes, Motilal Vora and Sam Pitroda. The summons were issued on a private complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
However, AICC denied having received a summon. They issued a statment in response, saying, "In the National Herald matter, the persons named have not recieved any papers or information from the Court so far. They will seek legal advice and so the needful."
The National Herald newspaper was established in 1938 by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was shut down in 2008. The case involves misappropriation of funds of the now-defunct newspaper.
Speaking to reporters after the court issued summons, Swamy said that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi's signatures prove their involvement in the National Herald case. Swamy said the case involves Rs 1600 crore worth of property belonging to the National Herald, which was grabbed by Congress leaders using fraudulent papers. He claimed that the party had even sanctioned Rs 90 crore loan to the newspaper.
In his petition, Swamy alleged that the accused have floated a closely held private company to “grab more than Rs 1600 crore worth properties” of the public limited company Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of ‘National Herald’ using the Rs 90 crore fund of the All India Congress Committee. “Sonia Gandhi as President of the Congress Party, along with other party office bearers Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernadez and who together owned 100% of the equity in Young India, wrote off the loan of Rs 90 crore obtained from the party as irrecoverable.
“Thus, by a mere payment of Rs. 50 lakhs by Young Indian, the company acquired the complete ownership of AJL From the Balance Sheet it can be seen that contrary to the claim of the AJL Board, the AJL had real estate assets of at least Rs. 2000 crores, including a multi-story building in prime area of New Delhi on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
AJL has real estate in Lucknow, Bhopal, Indore, Mumbai, Panchkula, Patna and other places. A conservative estimate of its real estate worth is placed at Rs 5,000 crores, all provided originally by various central and state governments after 1947 for facilitating newspaper printing, and publishing,” said Swamy in his petition.
This is a case of fraud and breach of trust, and the duo can be sentenced to anywhere between seven years and life term, the BJP leader said. The complaint was first filed by Swamy in 2001, when he was the chief of the Janata Party.
First published on Zee News