Associated Journals to turn non-profit body, relaunch National Herald

Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publishers of the defunct National Herald group of newspapers, today decided to transform itself into a non-profit organisation and to relaunch the National Herald newspaper.

AJL managing director Motilal Vora said the AJL extraordinary general meeting, held at Lucknow, decided to covert itself into a non-profit entity.

He said the conversion was not in any way linked to the National Herald case.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had last month got bail in the National Herald case after a local court rejected complainant of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's opposition to the relief for them on the ground they are influential and can flee the country.

The case is based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy against them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.

On 19 December last year, a day before Congress top brass Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the majority shareholders of AJL, were to appear before court on a summons from the court, AJL had published advertisements in newspapers announcing the meeting.

Sonia and Rahul later appeared before a trial court in Delhi in the National Herald case.

An entity called Young Indian Ltd, controlled by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, hold majority stake in AJL after the Congress party let the two share control of the publishing house floated by Jawaharlal Nehru and others through a loan extended to Young India Ltd.

''The board of the company has been considering for more than four years that the company should not be commercially motivated with a view to distribute any benefits or dividends to its members. It should, instead, operate and undertake its activities for the larger public goods,'' the noticed had said.

According to the notice that appeared in Lucknow-based newspapers, the meeting will seek the approval of 762 shareholders for turning AJL into a not-for-profit, under Section-8 company under the Companies Act 2013.

A Section-8 company is a venture established ''for promoting commerce, art, science, sports, education, research, social welfare, religion, charity, protection of environment or any such other object'' and profits from such a company's activities, as well as any other income earned by it, can be used only for promoting the objectives of the company.

The notice was issued by AJL managing director and Congress party treasurer Motilal Vora, who was one of the seven people to be summoned by a Delhi court in response to the case against promoters of AJL in the National Herald case. Vohra was expected to chair the meeting.

The shareholders will also be asked to change the name of the company from AJL to a new name, which is yet to be announced.

It is expected that after this move Young Indian Limited (YIL), the private company in which Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi hold a majority stake, will be merged with AJL.

This move is an attempt to rectify illegalities found by the trial court and Delhi high court that led to the summoning of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

AJL and its office bearers have been in the eye of a political and legal storm ever since it came in the open that Vora along with other directors in the company had transferred its entire equity to the new company YIL in December 2010.

Other office-bearers include party leaders like Vora, Oscar Fernandes and other Gandhi family loyalists like Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey.