Days after recording Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leader Rahul Gandhi’s statements in connection with the National Herald case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday carried out search operations at the newspaper’s headquarters in the national capital.
The National Herald case came under the spotlight when BJP MP Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint against Congress leaders in a Delhi court in 2013. The complaint alleged that Young Indian Ltd, a company owned by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vora, and Oscar Fernandes, maliciously took over the assets of the National Herald newspaper, owned by the Associated Journals Limited. The probe began when the Income Tax department took note of the complaint.
The action by the ED comes after days after the Supreme Court dismissed over 240 pleas questioning the powers of the Enforcement Directorate, upholding the probe body’s rights to arrest, search, and seize under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s questioning by the ED did not go down well with the Congress and its workers with several party leaders protesting against the alleged misuse of central agencies, including the ED. Congress leaders across the nation held protest marches and to protest against the ED’s questioning of Rahul Gandhi, and later of party chief Sonia Gandhi, in the National Herald newspaper-linked money laundering case.
Senior Congress leaders, including VD Satheesan and former minister Ramesh Chennithala, who participated in a protest march in Kerala, were subsequently arrested and removed from the area, PTI had reported. An officer of Museum police station said all of the arrested Congress leaders were later released on station bail. Some Congress leaders were also arrested from outside AICC headquarters where they were staging protests.
The National Herald newspaper was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru and other freedom fighters in 1938. It was published by the AJL, which was also started by Nehru. The AJL had over 5,000 freedom fighters as its shareholders. According to media reports, it was an unlisted public company that began with a capital of Rs 5 lakh.