National Herald case: Enforcement Directorate summons Congress chief Sonia, Rahul
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday summoned Indian National Congress (INC) chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in connection with a money-laundering case involving the National Herald newspaper. While Sonia is required to be present on June 8, Rahul Gandhi has been summoned on Thursday. However, Rahul has asked for time to appear after June 5 as he is not in the country.
- The high-profile case came to light in 2013 when BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint before a trial court.
- He accused top Congress leaders of cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by Young Indian (YI).
- The National Herald was a newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru along with other freedom fighters in 1938.
The Gandhis are accused of fraud and theft of funds in the purchase of a newspaper. They are accused of obtaining National Herald assets by purchasing the former publishers of the newspaper through YI, in which they had an 86% share. Notably, the Ministry of Finance is examining a tax evasion appeal in the case, which Congress claims was closed in 2015.
Swamy accused Gandhis and others of misappropriating funds by paying merely Rs. 50 lakh for the privilege to recover Rs. 90.25 crore owed to Congress through AJL. It was claimed that YI, which was founded in November 2010 with a capital of Rs. 50 lakh, had acquired nearly all of AJL's shares in the National Herald.
Following the complaint, the Income Tax (IT) department also began investigating the case. According to the department, Rahul Gandhi's shares in YI would result in an income of Rs. 154 crore, rather than the initially estimated Rs. 68 lakh. It has already issued a demand notice to YI for Rs. 249.15 crore for the fiscal year 2011-12.
"The BJP is using puppet agencies to intimidate political opponents. National Herald has a history that goes back to independence days," said Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi. He claims that central agencies are targeting all opposition leaders, including Mamata Banerjee and Farooq Abdullah. About the complaint, Singhvi said all corporations enhance their balance sheets by converting loans into equity.