From claiming there was ‘zero loss’ in 2G spectrum allocations, to asking the Supreme Court to defer the hearing of the Ayodhya title dispute by two years, how does Kapil Sibal manage to come up with the most shocking of responses?
Not many days ago, when Rahul Gandhi’s name appeared in a register meant for non-Hindus in the Somnath temple, advocate and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal responded by saying that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was not a ‘real Hindu’. Sibal suffered unanimous criticism for his remark but - with the latest statements - has seemingly not taken any cue from the incident.
More than once, the Harvard-educated layer has been caught with his foot in the mouth. Here is a recap of all the instances when Sibal’s remarks caused an embarrassment to his party, colleagues, and leaders.
Scenario: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report, in November 2010, claimed that the United Progressive Alliance ( UPA) government’s decisions to allocate, and not auction, 2G spectrum caused a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to state exchequer.
What Sibal Did: “Zero loss!” - Sibal said, countering the CAG’s claims. “ The logic underlying this estimate is completely flawed. Government policy is formulated with a view to maximising public welfare, and not merely to maximise government revenues”, said Sibal in his capacity as the Union Minister for IT and Communications.
What followed: Sibal’s remarks caused a political storm apart from receiving censure from media and analysts alike. Even the Supreme Court pulled up Sibal for the irresponsible remarks trying to malign the CAG. A spectrum auction in 2015 by the BJP-led government fetched Rs 1.09 lakh crore, corroborating the regulator’s estimated loss figure.
Triple Talaq Issue
Scenario: In 2015, the Supreme Court asked the Chief Justice of India to set up an appropriate bench to examine if Muslim women face discrimination in cases of divorce.
What Sibal Did: Towards the last days of the hearings, as much of the country chose to support the basic right of Muslim women, Sibal argued against it. He wanted the status quo on triple talaq to remain while the government strived to do away with the mediaeval practice. In fact, while arguing against abolishing triple talaq, Sibal had compared it to the belief that Rama was born in Ayodhya and said that such issues of faith cannot be subjected to tests of constitutional morality.
What followed: As the Supreme Court banned the practice, and called on the government to bring in a law against it, Sibal could only manage to say that the Supreme Court had chosen to ban only one form of triple talaq and tried to claim moral victory on the issue. He also petitioned the court for ‘clarity’ on the judgement, which the court declined.
Ram Janmabhoomi Hearings
Scenario: The Supreme Court took up the final hearing of the Ayodhya title suit on Tuesday, 5 December.
What Sibal Did: Appearing for the Sunni Waqf board, he pleaded before the Supreme Court that the hearing for the case should be deferred to July 2019.
What followed: Even the Sunni Waqf Board - which counts Sibal as a counsellor - one of the litigants in the case, disowned Sibal’s remark. Prime Minister Modi too, during an election rally, called out Sibal’s delaying tactics.
Apart from these, Sibal represents the accused in the Kingfisher case, the Sharadha scam in West Bengal, and the National Herald case.
The thing to watch out for thus, is not what Kapil Sibal says or does next. But where does it rank on the index of ludicrousness.