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Judge Finds Prima Facie Evidence Of Misappropriation Against Sonia, Rahul

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Judge Finds Prima Facie Evidence Of Misappropriation Against Sonia, Rahul

Judge Finds Prima Facie Evidence Of Misappropriation Against Sonia, Rahul

New Delhi: A court here Thursday issued summons to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on charges of misappropriating funds of a company that used to publish the now defunct National Herald newspaper.

In response to a private complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha said: “I have found prima facie evidence against all the accused.” The court has directed them to appear before it Aug 7.

The Congress called it “a motivated complaint”. “The allegations are baseless,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

A party statement added: “All the persons named in the National Herald matter will seek legal advice and do the needful.”

Apart from the Gandhis, the court also summoned Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda, who was an advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh, and former journalist Suman Dubey, who is close to the Gandhi family.

The complaint alleged that the Gandhis formed a company, Young India, in 2010 with 38 percent share each to take control of Rs.2,000 crore worth of assets of Associated Journals Ltd, which published the National Herald.

“Since all the accused persons have allegedly acted in consortium with each other to achieve the said nefarious purpose/design, there are sufficient grounds for proceedings against all of them,” the court said.

However, the judge added in 20-page order that “it goes without saying that guilt of an accused is determined after trial when the burden of proof is discharged beyond reasonable doubt.

“This is only the stage of summoning of the accused. When the accused appear before the court they shall be at liberty to refute the allegations of (Swamy), cross examine the witnesses.”

The judge, however, added that the complainant had established a prime facie case of dishonest misappropriation of property, criminal breach of Trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

The summons were also served on Young India.

“The chain of circumstance appears to give rise to a conclusive or irresistible inference of an agreement between the accused to commit the offences as alleged in a pre-planned manner,” the court observed.

It noted that “though the language in the documents is shrouded in ambiguity but it is not difficult to understand that the control over public money/assets appear to have been cleverly transferred to the hands of the few by creating a company (Young India) for this purpose”.

Speaking to reporters, Swamy said: “This is a fraud, criminal breach of trust as they have managed to misappropriate the fund of Rs.2,000 crore.

“It is important for the court to take away the passports of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi so that they do not run away from the country.”

He said the offence was made possible because of the Gandhis’ “crony control over the Congress party and AJL”.

He alleged that they closed AJL in 2008 due to financial crisis and stopped printing the National Herald and sister publications Navjivan (Hindi) and Qaumi Awaz (Urdu), which were saddled with huge unpaid debts.

To resolve the financial crisis, AJL transferred the share equity to Young India by a mere payment of Rs.50 lakhs without taking any reference from the shareholders.

Young India thus acquired the complete ownership of AJL real estate assets of at least Rs.2,000 crores, including a multi-story building in a prime location in Delhi.

The National Herald was started in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru. Over the decades, it lost circulation and ran into major financial losses, leading to its closure in 2008.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Nawaz sharif

Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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Temple

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