New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday asked the publisher of the Congress-linked National Herald newspaper to vacate its headquarters in the capital.

The premises of the Associated Journals Limited-owned National Herald building at ITO needs to be vacated within two weeks, the court ordered.

Associated Journals had challenged a government order on October 30, asking it to vacate the building by November 15 stating that Herald House's 56-year-old lease to AJL had ended.

AJL, in its petition, stated that the government decision to cancel the lease is "politically motivated". It further stated that the impugned order is vitiated by malafides, bias and has been issued with oblique political motives.

During the hearing of the case, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the ministry and the Land and Development Office, had told the court the re-entry notice was issued as it had initiated the proceedings back in 2016 when no printing or publishing activity was going on. All procedures had been followed before issuing the notice for re-entry to AJL, Mehta said.

He added that the decision was similar to that meted to Indian Express, and it is wrong to say that the government is trying to negate Nehru’s legacy.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for AJL, countered the argument by alleging that the eviction process had been initiated while the matter was still in court.

He added that it is not necessary that all print and press work should be from the premises. A new printing press has been put in place. AJL is no longer the owner of the premises and Young India was the only shareholder of 98% of the company.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that Sonia Gandhi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi set up a company to buy debts worth Rs 90 crore owed by Associated Journals, which publishes three newspapers including National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became India's first Prime Minister.

In 2008, AJL had shut down over its debts. The BJP alleges that the Gandhi family used Congress funds to clear AJL’s debts.

In 2012, Swamy had filed a case against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, alleging irregularities in a Rs 90 crore loan given by the Congress to AJL.

In this case, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young India are accused. All the accused are currently on bail. The complainant's statements have been filed in this case.