New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday told Delhi High Court that the party's Rs 90 crore loan to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald, was assigned to Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL) for Rs 50 lakh to revive the publication.
The submission was made before Justice Sunil Gaur by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Congress chief, who said AJL will start running the newspaper as soon it pays off its debt to the Congress party.
Sibal made the argument while refuting the allegation of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy that AJL's properties would only be used for deriving rent.
The argument was made during hearing of a bunch of pleas, filed by the Congress chief, her son Rahul Gandhi and five others, challenging the summons issued against them on a complaint by Swamy alleging cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of AJL by YIL, in which the accused party leaders are shareholders.
During the hearing, Sibal asked where the element of cheating or misappropriation or breach of trust was, as the acquisition process was carried out with the unanimous support of AJL's shareholders.
The acquisition was carried out by assigning to YIL for Rs 50 lakh a debt of Rs 90 crore that AJL had to pay to the Congress party, Sibal told the court and added that instead of paying YIL, shares in the publication were given to YIL.
He clarified that the exercise was carried out to revive AJL, and neither YIL nor its shareholders have derived any income or profit out of it.
"There has been no wrongful gain or loss and no property has been taken away," he said.
Swamy, meanwhile, contended that the Congress leaders had betrayed the Indian government as well as various state governments by getting prime land on concessional rates on the pretext of running a publication, and instead using the same for building malls or renting them out for commercial gains.
Swamy also claimed that AJL could have sold off some of its properties to pay of the debt to Congress.
After hearing arguments of both sides, the court asked for the documents used as pre-summoning evidence by the trial court, prior to summoning the Congress leaders as accused.
The trial court had on June 26 last year summoned Sonia, Rahul, Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, General Secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on the complaint by Swamy.
The Congress leaders had, thereafter, on July 30, 2014, moved the high court which had stayed the summons on August 6 last year.
Thereafter, on December 15, 2014, the court had stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.