The Delhi High Court, which had ordered "status quo" in a case involving land leased to the publishers of Congress-linked newspaper National Herald, will hear the case today.
Associated Journals Limited, which owns National Herald, had gone to the high court last Monday challenging a government order on October 30 cancelling its 56-year-old lease and asking it to vacate the building, Herald House, by November 15.
One of the reasons mentioned in the order to vacate the building (Hearld House) was that no newspaper office has been functioning on the premises for last 10 years and the building was being used only for "commercial purposes" against the conditions on the lease agreement.
Last week, Congress leaders approached the Delhi High Court alleging that the eviction at Herald House had started even before the court had decided on the petition by Associated Journals. "It is malicious prosecution and an impugned order vitiated by malafides and ulterior political motives," said Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, during the hearing.
The court then ordered a status quo till today, to which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the government's Land and Development Office, gave the assurance of no action until then.
Accusing the government of acting with "revenge" and "malice" against the National Herald newspaper, the Congress said last Thursday that it will fight the government with the "same zeal and spirit" as it fought the "oppressive British" and thwart efforts to "silence" the voice of the newspaper.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government is "blinded by revenge" in targeting the National Herald, the newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru and other freedom fighters to take on the British.
The eviction order by the government gave a new twist to the National Herald case, which has been described by the BJP as a prime example of corruption by the Congress and the Gandhi family.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi - the Congress president - set up a company to buy debts worth Rs 90 crore owed by Associated Journals, which publishes three newspapers including National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru - Rahul Gandhi's great-grandfather - before he became India's first prime minister.
In 2008, Associated Journals had shut down because its debts. The BJP alleges that the Gandhis (Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi) used Congress party funds to pay off its debts even though the publisher has real estate assets worth thousands of crores.
On November 12, National Herald tweeted that it was being targeted by the BJP government for its growing digital presence.
In 2012, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed a case against then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, alleging irregularities related to a loan of Rs 90 crore given by the Congress to Associated Journals limited.
Young Indian (YI), which was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of Rs. 50 lakh, had acquired almost all shareholdings of the AJL, which owns the National Herald newspaper. In this process, YI had also acquired AJL's debt of Rs. 90 crore.
Young Indian, which has Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi as directors, gives Herald House as its registered office address.
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