The Delhi High Court on Monday reserved its verdict on a plea by National Herald publisher AJL challenging a single judge order directing it to vacate its premises.
The Centre has claimed that AJL has “clandestinely” transferred its majority shares to Young India (YI) in which Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are major shareholders. However, AJL contended before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao that the transfer of shares to YI, in which Gandhis are shareholders, won’t make them the building’s owners.
In a single judge order dated December 21, 2018, AJL was asked to vacate the premises within two weeks.
The single judge had rejected AJL’s plea challenging the October 30, 2018 order of the Land and Development Office (L&DO), ending its 56-year-old lease and asking it to vacate the premises in the press enclave at ITO in central Delhi. The single judge had observed that the ‘subject premises’ was leased out to AJL for publication of National Herald, “but the dominant purpose is now practically lost”.
The single judge had made clear that if the premises is not vacated, eviction proceedings would be initiated. AJL has sought a stay on the operation of the order. AJL’s counsel stated that it has been publishing a newspaper for the past several decades, and that although there was a temporary suspension period due to financial troubles, the newspaper and digital media operations had fully resumed by the time the notice was issued.