No illegality in National Herald case, Sonia Gandhi tells HC

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) There was no “illegality” in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd. by Young Indian Ltd. as per the Companies Act, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday told the Delhi High Court, adding that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had no locus standi in the case.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Gandhi, sought quashing of the proceedings initiated by a lower court here against her, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and four others, saying the complaint made by the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Swamy against them was only “allegations without any supporting proof”.

Sibal said Swamy, being a third party, had no locus standi in the case as it was a company matter. “Swamy is not even a shareholder and cannot even show that something illegal has been done,” argued Sibal.

He said there was no illegality of Young India Ltd. (YIL) taking over Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) as per the Companies Act.

The arguments in the case would continue on Friday also before Justice Sunil Gaur.

Apart from the Gandhis, Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, family friend Suman Dubey, and Oscar Fernandes had moved the high court for quashing of summons to them by a trial court on Swamy’s complaint.

The high court had stayed the criminal proceedings in the trial court.

Swamy had claimed that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, as majority shareholders of YIL, benefited from the acquisition of AJL.

On a query from the court about his locus standi in the case, Swamy said he was the complainant as the matter relates to public interest.

Swamy had alleged that AJL had received an interest-free loan of Rs.90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to YIL for Rs.50 lakh. At the time, AJL, which had Vora as its chairman, claimed that it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL.

On June 26, the trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy’s complaint on “cheating” in the acquisition of AJL, the publisher of the now-defunct National Herald newspaper, by YIL – “a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38-percent stake”.

Filing the plea, the Congress leaders said Swamy was a political opponent and the present criminal proceedings were initiated only with an intent to secure an oblique political objective.

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