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No illegality in National Herald case: Sonia to HC

By Ians English

New Delhi, March 18: 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 Wednesday told the Delhi High Court adding that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has no locus standi in the case.

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


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

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

After a brief hearing Justice Sunil Gaur asked Swamy to file written submissions and posted the matter for March 24.

Apart from the Gandhis, Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, family friend Suman Dubey, and Oscar Fernandes had moved the high court and sought to quash the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by Swamy.

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

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

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 a complaint by Swamy alleging "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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