Delhi High Court orders National Herald publishers to vacate Herald House

The Urban Development Ministry had asked AJL to vacate Herald House.

The Urban Development Ministry had asked AJL to vacate Herald House.  

In a setback to the Congress, the Delhi High Court on Friday directed Associated Journals Limited (AJL), publishers of The National Herald, to vacate the Herald House in the capital within two weeks.

The newspaper, launched by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938 to advance the freedom movement, is owned by Young Indian Company, in which Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are the majority stakeholders.

The Herald House was allotted to AJL in 1962 for running a press, but currently the ground floor as well as the first floor have been let out to the Passport Office, and the second and third floors have been let out to Tata Consultancy Services. 

Justice Sunil Gaur dismissed AJL’s petition challenging the October 30 order of the Land and Development Office (L&DO) ending its 56-year-old lease.

Justice Gaur said a major portion of the ‘subject premises’ was rented out and the newspaper, which was to be housed originally in the basement and the ground floor, was shifted to the top floor with hardly any “press activity.” 

The judge said the ‘subject premises’ was leased out to AJL for publication of The National Herald, “but the dominant purpose is now practically lost”. 

AJL alleged that the Centre’s order to vacate the premises was “vitiated by mala fides and bias and has been issued with oblique political motives.” It alleged that the ruling dispensation put into action several “covert and overt measures to erase, efface and defame the legacy of Pandit Nehru.”

‘Preposterous charges’

Justice Gaur termed the allegations “preposterous,” noting that AJL had not cited a single instance to support its claim.

Commenting on the takeover of AJL by YI, which is the subject matter of a separate complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, the court said that by transfer of AJL’s 99% shares to YI, the beneficial interest of AJL’s property worth ₹413.40 crore stood “clandestinely transferred” to YI.


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Printable version | May 28, 2020 11:15:56 AM |

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