AJL shareholders meet, decide to resume National Herald publication

| Friday, January 22, 2016 - 16:06
First Published |
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi joined the board as directors

Lucknow: The Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) that published National Herald, Navjivan and Quami Awaz newspapers has decided to resume their publication following an extraordinary general meeting of its shareholders here on Thursday.
It was also decided that difference in compensation given to workers in Lucknow and Delhi, when the newspapers were closed, will be removed.
AJL managing director Motilal Vora had a given notice in Lucknow-based newspapers last month for an extraordinary general meeting of the AJL on January 21. 
Among other things, the notice proposed to seek the approval of the shareholders for turning the AJL into a Section 8 company (non-profit company) under the Companies Act, 2013. 
While the National Herald was published in English, Qaumi Awaz was published in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi.
The notice had come a day before Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi appeared before a trial court in Delhi in the National Herald case on the complaint of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. Vora, who is also Congress treasurer, was among those summoned in the case.
The National Herald newspaper was launched during the freedom struggle in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru, who went on to become independent India's first prime minister.
The paper originally served as a mouthpiece of the Congress. However, over the decades, circulation dropped and finances dried out, and it finally closed in 2008 with a debt of Rs.90 crore.
In a bid to keep AJL afloat, the Congress party gave the company unsecured, interest-free loans for some years up to 2010. On November 23, 2010, the AJL was taken over by a newly-floated company called Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) with the Gandhi family loyalists Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as directors.
The All India Congress Committee allegedly decided to assign the nearly Rs.90 crore debt owed to it by AJL to YIL, thus making it the owner of the debt in the books.
In December 2010, the AJL is said to have decided to transfer its entire equity to Young Indian in lieu of the Rs.90 crore debt. Young Indian paid Rs.50 lakh for this acquisition.
The AJL, which originally owed Rs.90 crore to the Congress, became a fully-owned subsidiary of Young Indian by virtue of this decision and transaction.
In December 2010, Rahul Gandhi was appointed its director and in January 2011, Sonia Gandhi also joined the board as a director. Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes too were appointed to the Young Indian board on the same day.
As per documents, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have individual shareholdings of 38 percent each in the company while Vora and Fernandes hold the remaining 24 percent in equal parts.
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