In a major setback to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Cour, today, asked Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publishers of National Herald, to vacate its Delhi office building in two weeks. It has dismissed the petition, challenging the eviction order of October 30 by Land and Development Authority.
The building is in the busy ITO area. In its eviction order, the Centre had mentioned a violation of lease conditions by the publisher of the newspaper. In 2008, AJL had shut down over its debts. The BJP alleged that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi used Congress party funds to pay off its debts.
Last month, the court had asked Centre how re-entering the premises was justified since the publication of National Herald had commenced. Justice Sunil Gaur, who reserved his verdict in the matter, asked the Urban Development Ministry, “They are now running the newspaper. So where is the justification now to re-enter premises? Where is the occasion now to re-enter the premises?”
AJL had opposed the Centre’s stand, saying that publication of web editions began in 2016 and the issue of absence of printing press in the premises was not raised then.
It had said the government kept silent till April 2018 when it again sent a notice for inspection and in which it had said that it was coming to check breaches mentioned in notice of October 10, 2016.AJL had also argued that several major papers carry out printing elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the CBI also filed a chargesheet against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Congress leader Motilal Vora, in connection with alleged illegal allotment of plot to AJL.