Why did ED reopen National Herald case?

The Congress party has categorically maintained that it has the highest respect for the law of the land, but at the same time won’t be brow beaten into subjugation.

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi | New Delhi | Updated: February 9, 2016 11:20 am
National Herald Case, National herald case Congress, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul gandhi, Priyanka Chaturvedi Congress BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, along with four others, of cheating and breach of trust in the AJL-YIL case.

By Priyanka Chaturvedi

In the past week, National Herald and the Delhi High Court ruling has been much debated on prime time news channels. Many news channels to create confusion in the mind of the viewers deliberately obfuscated the two issues of judiciary versus political vendetta. PM Narendra Modi feels by keeping the Opposition engaged in false motivated legal battles through his appointed proxies will silence them so they do not ask tough question of his failed governance model.

He clearly is mistaken.

The Congress party has categorically maintained that it has the highest respect for the law of the land, but at the same time won’t be brow beaten into subjugation. For those who are still wondering what the National Herald case is about? Indian National Congress supported Associated Journals Limited, publisher of National Herald and other publications founded by first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937.

When National Herald was incurring huge running losses, Indian National Congress, stepped in to support them in the form of interest-free loans totaling Rs 90 crore from time to time. In the year 2010, a ‘not-for-profit Section 25 company’ was incorporated under the Indian Companies Act, 1956. Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Rahul Gandhi are amongst its six Managing Committee members. ‘Young Indian’ acquired this Rs 90 crore loan from Indian National Congress with a view to revive the newspaper.

Now to look at the legal aspect of the case that BJP and their core team member Subramanian Swamy have been crowing about it – a political party granting a loan is not a criminal offence under any law in India. Moreover, this loan was duly disclosed in books of accounts of Congress Party, duly audited and submitted to Election Commission of India.

In fact, the Election Commission had rejected Subramanian Swamy’s charge clarifying that there is no provision in the Representation of Peoples Act that prohibits or controls expenditure by a political party. Members of a ‘not-for-profit Section 25 company’ are prohibited by law from getting any dividend, profit, salary or any other financial benefit. Therefore, the question of any gain or profit or financial benefit does not arise and is inherently false.

Now to expose another set of BJP and their team member Swamy’s false charges on ownership of assets – all income and all assets continue to remain exclusive property of Associated Journals Limited despite transfer of majority shareholding to ‘Young Indian’. Assets are owned by the company i.e. Associated Journals Limited and not any shareholder. No one has transferred any movable or immovable property/assets of Associated Journals Limited nor has ‘Young Indian’ withdrawn a single rupee from Associated Journals Limited. Even if ‘Young Indian’ is liquidated/closed by Managing Committee members, all proceeds thereof can only go to a ‘not-for-profit’ company and can never be legally distributed among its shareholders/ Managing Committee members.

It is indeed worth questioning that while on one hand Arun Jaitley said Swamy filed the case in his individual capacity and not on behalf of the party on the other how is it that Shahnawaz Hussain held a press conference in BJP headquarter minutes after the Delhi High Court ruling when the judgment itself had not even been released? What smacks of political vendetta is how Enforcement Directorate reopened the National Herald case in September, while they had supposedly found no wrongdoing and had closed it a month earlier in August, 2015. They went so far as to sack the ED Director who recommended closure.

This political witchhunt is not new under Modi government, when he was governing his state and even now when he attempts to govern the nation. The Congress has been raising the systemic witch hunt that Modi government has been indulging in ever since it came to power. They seem to forget that the people of the country voted them for governance and not for indulging in political vendetta.

Modi government has maintained a silence on the widespread corruption reported in BJP states such as Madhya Pradesh that was rocked by two big scams affecting the career of over one crore students the Vyapam Scam and DMAT Chhattisgarh saw the PDS Scam of nearly Rs 36000 crores.

In the mining scam of Rajasthan 1,700 mines worth Rs 2,04,000 crore were allocated illegally&after objection they were forced to cancel allocation of 1,650 mines. No FIR has been lodged or CBI or ED inquiry has been conducted in the Modi Gate scam. Instead the Modi government has chosen to do what it does best- attack its opponents on false charges.

To give a few examples it raided the premises of Leader of Opposition & Narendra Modi’s bete noire, Shankar Sinh Vaghela. In a vindictive move Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was raided by CBI at a time when his daughter was getting married. A similar pattern can be seen in Rajasthan where a case was heaped upon Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Similar FIRs were lodged by CBI in Haryana, Assam, Chhattishgarh and Goa against Congress leaders. Even other opponents of Modi government have not been spared.

TMC and its leaders are being hounded by CBI/ED and other agencies in West Bengal. BSP President has already been questioned by CBI. At least, three dozen cases including sedition have been registered against Hardik Patel in Gujarat. Over 20,000 criminal cases have been registered against Patidars in Gujarat.

We firmly believe that truth will prevail and justice will be achieved through due judicial process. What needs to be highlighted and exposed is the role of the Bharatiya Janta Party in failing to provide good governance to the people of the country by indulging in silencing the opposition. It is time the country realized it is the BJP that is truly blocking the nation’s progress for its own politically driven agenda.

(Priyanka Chaturvedi is a National Spokesperson of Indian National Congress. The views expressed here are personal. Tweet to her @priyankac19)

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