SC Stays Eviction Order Against National Herald Publisher AJL
The Supreme Court today stayed the Delhi High Court's eviction order against Associated Journal's Limited(AJL) - the publisher of Congress mouthpiece National Herald - from ITO premises in New Delhi.
On February 28, the division bench of the Delhi High Court had upheld that eviction order passed under the Public Premises Act by Centre and the Land and Development Office(LDO) against AJL stating that no press has been functioning in the premises for at least the past 10 years and that it was being used only for commercial purposes in violation of the lease deed. The order was passed in the backdrop of majority of shares of AJL being transferred to the company Young India (YI), in which Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are shareholders.
Earlier, a single bench of the High Court had refused to interfere with the eviction order.The bench took note of the fact that AJL has been taken over by Young Indian Company for all practical purposes. It said: "This Court is conscious of the fact that Young Indian Company is a charitable company, but modus operandi to acquire 99% of AJL's shares speaks volumes. The manner in which it has been done is also questionable."
The division bench too upheld the single bench's view that the entire transaction of transferring the shares of AJL to Young India was nothing but a clandestine and surreptitious transfer of the lucrative interest in the premises to Young India.
It was found that by transfer of AJL's 99 per cent shares to YI, the beneficial interest of AJL's property worth Rs 413.40 crore stands "clandestinely" transferred to YI.
AJL had contended that even a 100 percent shareholder of a company would not become the owner of its assets. The Centre had contended before the court that transfer of 99 per cent stake in AJL to YI, when the latter bought the former's Rs 90 crore debt for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh, led to a "virtual" sale.
In its plea, AJL has also said the digital versions of English newspaper National Herald, Hindi's Navjivan and Urdu's Qaumi Awaz have commenced from 2016-17. The weekly newspaper 'National Herald on Sunday' resumed on September 24, 2017, and the place of publication was the ITO premises, AJL said, adding that the Hindi weekly newspaper Sunday Navjivan was being published since October last year from the same premises.