NEW DELHI: In fresh trouble for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case, former Union law minister Shanti Bhushan on Friday said there were irregularities in the manner in which the Congress leaders had acquired the now-defunct daily’s properties.
Announcing his decision to legally challenge the transfer of the control of Associated Journal Ltd that owned the National Herald to Young Indian Limited, in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi own a majority stake, Bhushan questioned the ‘illegal transfer’ of shares of Associated Journal Ltd to a private controlled firm, Young Indian Limited. “I will challenge it in court. This transfer of shares is wholly illegal,” he said.
The former AAP member said he inherited over 300 Associated Journal shares from his father. “My father had taken the shares in 1938 in his name. I have initiated the process for substitution of his legal heirs as owners of those shares,” said Bhushan.
“My father had 10 children. Three of them have passed away. I have to get the signatures of their legal heirs for substituting my father’s name with ours as the owners of these 300 shares,” Bhushan said.
He also added, “This process of getting signatures of legal heirs will take some time. But surely I will challenge this illegal transfer of AJL shares.”
He further pointed out that the National Herald was started in 1937-38 and his father was a Congressman, and therefore, like all well-to-do Congressmen, he had also subscribed to the creation of the National Herald. “His name still continues to be on the shareholders list. I am told that assets with Associated Journal Ltd are worth Rs 2,000 crore,” he said.
He also asked, “If Associated Journal Ltd had problem in paying off Rs 90 crore debt, why weren’t some assets of the company sold to pay off the debt? National Herald assets are worth Rs 2000 crore. Rs 90 crore was a small loan in that sense.” But he said none of the heirs of the original shareholders would want to cash in on the shares. “They would want the assets of National Herald to be used for the betterment of the country,” he added.
In the National Herald case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, the trial court has asked Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to appear before it on December 19. This has led to Congress accusing the BJP-led NDA government of a “political vendetta” and unfairly targeting its leaders using proxy litigation.