Cracking down on the Congress-backed Associated Journals Limited (AJL) - the publisher of National Herald newspaper, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday, attached it assets including part of a Bandra-based 9 storey building with 2 basements- worth Rs 16.38 Crores, under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The attachment order was issued against the Associated Journals Limited & Moti Lal Vora - the Chairman-Cum-Managing Director AJL. This attachment is part of the larger National Herald case, as the party has allegedly owns several properties under AJL's name for press functions.
Sources report that the Bandra-based property worth Rs 120 crores in total was bought on loan from Syndicate Bank by mortgaging a larger property in Chandigarh's Panchkula area. This transaction was allegedly done between Senior Congress leader Motilal Vora and then-Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The latter had allegedly given the Congress party a plot of land in Panchkula for AJL in 1982, taken back in 1992 for non-compliance of said conditions, and then reallocated to Congress in 2005, by Hooda - allegedly awarding extensions against the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) norms.
Earlier in December 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had attached the Panchkula properties worth Rs. 64 crores. Additionally, the ED has also charge-sheeted former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda over alleged illegal allotment of land to AJL. The order stated The then CM caused wrongful loss to HUDA and wrongful gain to AJL by ignoring legal opinion of LR, Haryana and recommendations of HUDA officers and FCTCP".
AJL is an unlisted public company that publishes the National Herald, before the company had incurred losses and its holdings were transferred to Young India in 2011. Previously on November 16, I-T Tribunal dealt a significant blow to the top Congress leadership by declaring that Young Indian was not a charitable organization. The plea filed by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was rejected. It states that Young Indian is a commercial entity and thus, it cannot get a tax exemption which has paved way for the reopening of the Rs.100 crore tax case against Rahul Gandhi.