National Herald case: our eviction due to BJP’s ‘pathological hatred’ of Nehruvian ideals, AJL tells SC

A view of Herald House in New Delhi. File photo.

A view of Herald House in New Delhi. File photo.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

One of the “favorite propaganda” tools of the ruling party was to “blame Pandit Nehru for almost everything that ails the nation”, states petition.

Associated Journals Limited (AJL), publishers of The National Herald, moved the Supreme Court on Monday against their eviction from a centrally-located building in the National Capital, saying their dislodgement was due to the BJP's “pathological hatred” of the secular ideals of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who founded the paper.

“It is a matter of public knowledge that the principal political party of the incumbent ruling coalition dispensation at the Centre viz the Bharatiya Janata Party (in its present form since 1980 and in its earlier avatar — the Bhartiya Jana Sangh since 1951) harbours a pathological animus to the ideas of Indian’s first Prime Minister — Shri Pandit Nehru, whom they incessantly and viciously accuse of creation of a “secular democratic republic” where people of all faiths have equal protection and equal access under the Constitution of Indian,” the petition said.

It contended that the avowed objective of the power dispensation at the Centre was the creation of a “majoritarian state”, which is at loggerheads with the secular constitutional values represented by Pandit Nehru and the Indian National Congress.

The National Herald was launched by Nehru in 1938 to advance the freedom movement. It is owned by Young Indian Company, in which Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are the majority stakeholders. The building, Herald House, was allotted to AJL in 1962.

On February 29, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court dismissed an appeal by the AJL against the vacation of the premises. The High Court upheld an order of the Land and Development Office (L&DO) ending its 56-year-old lease.

Special leave petition

In a special leave petition, AJL said its publications espoused the ideology of the Congress party, which is the largest Opposition Party in the country.

“The eviction proceedings have been initiated for the purposes of scuttling the voice of democratic dissent of the Congress party,” the petition, filed by advocate Sunil Fernandes, submitted. The petition is settled by senior advocates A.M. Singhvi and Vivek Tankha and drawn by advocates Devadatt Kamat and Priyansha Indra Sharma.

Evicting the publication company from the premises was a clear affront to the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, the petition said.

“It is a deliberate attempt to suppress and destroy the legacy of the first Prime Minister of the country i.e. Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the guiding light for the publications of the company,” it said.

One of the “favorite propaganda” tools of the ruling party was to “blame Pandit Nehru for almost everything that ails the nation”, it stated.

“The eviction proceedings constitute a malicious step in the larger design of defaming and effacing the legacy of Pandit Nehru,” it alleged.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 10:35:32 AM |

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