The patriotic image of the National Herald newspaper, a fearless voice against the British colonial rule founded by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937, appeared to be dented after over eight decades when his great grandson Rahul Gandhi faced interrogation in a financial crime involving the newspaper's new version 'Young Indian Private Limited.
'The newspaper was published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) which was founded in 1937 with 5,000 other freedom fighters as its shareholders. The company published two other dailies - the Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi.
The publication of the newspapers was suspended at various times due to financial difficulties and labour problems, and on April 2, 2008, the newspaper was closed.
The properties were allotted for carrying out newspaper business and publication of newspapers in different languages. It was also allowed to let out these properties on rent to cater to its publication business, post-closure of the newspaper.
The office of AJL was shifted from Lucknow on September 1, 2010 to its Delhi property situated at 5A, Herald House, Bahadurshah Zafar Marg.Amid this chain of events, the All India Congress Committee (AICC), an apex body of the Congress, had advanced loans to AJL from time to time.
On March 31, 2010, there was an outstanding loan of Rs 88,86,68,976 (over Rs 88 crore) and a further loan of Rs 1.35 crore was received during the period April 1, 2010, to December 16, 2010, aggregating to Rs 90.21 crore.
On December 16, 2010, the AICC transferred the entire outstanding loan of Rs 90.21 crore due from AJL in favour of appellant company, Young Indian, for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh.
Further, almost 99.99 per cent shares of AJL were transferred to Young Indian.On December 13, 2010, in the first Managing Committee meeting of Young Indian, Rahul Gandhi was appointed as Director.
Besides the major ownership of the Gandhi family, there were 24 per cent shares owned by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda, all named in the case.
The case against the Gandhis was brought in a Delhi court by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy in 2012. Swamy has alleged that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi used Congress party funds and took over AJL to try to acquire more than Rs 2000 crore in property assets for "only Rs 50 lakh".
Swamy alleged that the Gandhis used "malicious" means to "take over" assets worth millions as Young Indian acquired complete control of AJL and its real estate, located in Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and other cities.In a nutshell, the National Herald case pertains to the assignment of a Rs 90 crore loan advanced by the Congress to Young Indian for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh, and alleged misappropriation of assets of over Rs 2,000 crore.