In the wake of massive simultaneous developments in the National Herald case, with the Delhi High Court choosing to not stay the Herald House eviction notice and the Haryana Governor sanctioning the prosecution of Ex-CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Republic TV has accessed the show-cause notice issued by the government to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of the National Herald newspaper, detailing the violations leading up to the eviction notice.
The notice is attached to an RTI response issued to BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy regarding the matter. In his application, Dr Swamy asks about the 2011 takeover of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of the National Herald newspaper, by Young Indian Limited, which is majority owned by Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, who are both directors.
Dr Swamy first seeks an answer as to whether the Herald House in Delhi was given out for commercial leasing following AJL's sale to Young Indian, which would have entailed a violation of an agreement with the government that the building would only be used for the printing and publishing of a newspaper. The response is inconclusive.
The Rajya Sabha MP then asks if any show-cause notices were issued to AJL on this violation, to which the answer is in the affirmative -- in June 2018. A copy of the notice is attached to the response, it states, adding, in answer to a follow-up question by Dr Swamy, that any impending action by the concerned ministry is under examination.
The show-cause notice issued to AJL then goes on to reveal details of violations at the Herald House at New Delhi's Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
The first two points in the notice provide a background as to how AJL obtained permission at a consessional rate to construct the Herald House, and for what purpose, in 1963. By 2013, rules regarding use of the 6-floor building (basement, ground floor, floors 1-4) were modified, such that any one floor of the building and the basement were to be used to for publishing and offices of the newspaper.
Next, however, it confirms that terms were flouted. In an inspection conducted in April 2018, it was found that there was no functioning printing press in the building, nor any paper stock. Instead, while the National Herald paper was being published starting September 2017 after being out of publication for many years, it was being printed elsewhere, at the press of the Indian Express in Noida. Meanwhile, the inspecting team found that most of the premises had been leased out, which becomes a violation and amounts to misuse of alloted land if the printing is not ongoing. AJL was then given 30 days to reply as to why action shouldn't be taken against it.
It was on October 30 that an order was issued by the Urban Development Ministry ending the lease of AJL and asking it to vacate the premises by November 15.
Below are the documents mentioned above: