New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) National Herald publisher Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) will be moving the Supreme Court challenging a Delhi High Court verdict on Thursday upholding the order to vacate its Herald House premises here, its lawyer said.
After a division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao rejected the AJL plea challenging the Centre’s eviction order and directed it to vacate the building on the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg at ITO here, AJL counsel and Congress MP Vivek Tankha said the verdict was in contravention of several Supreme Court judgments.
“The judgment is flawed on several grounds and is also against several Supreme Court judgments in this regard. Most importantly, the building is not a public premises so how can an eviction order be passed under the Public Premises Act. We will move the Supreme Court against it at the earliest,” Tankha told IANS.
The eviction order under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, was passed by Centre and the Land and Development Office (LDO) on October 30, 2018 stating that no press has been functioning in the premises for at least the past 10 years and it was being used only for commercial purposes in violation of the lease deed.
The eviction order was passed following a majority of shares of AJL being transferred to
Young India (YI), a company in which Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are shareholders. The Centre’s contention is that YI was formed with an intention to take over the Herald House.
The AJL then had moved the high court challenging the order but a single judge bench in December last dismissed its plea. It then subsequently moved the division bench of the HC which too has rejected its plea.
“We have no hesitation in holding that the entire transaction of transferring the shares of AJL to Young Indian was nothing but, as held by the learned writ court, a clandestine and surreptitious transfer of the lucrative interest in the premises to Young Indian,” the division bench said on Thursday, adding that it “only indicates the dishonest and fraudulent design behind such transaction”.
The Centre had contended before the court that transfer of 99 per cent stake in AJL to YI, was a “virtual sale”.
The AJL has been publishing the digital version of National Herald, Hindi’s Navjivan and Urdu’s Qaumi Awaz, weekly newspaper National Herald on Sunday and Hindi weekly newspaper Sunday Navjivan from the Heral House.
The National Herald was founded by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru back in 1938.