Why We Have To Empathise With Kapil Sibal On His National Herald Defence

Why We Have To Empathise With Kapil Sibal On His National Herald Defence

Sibal will now have to eat crow on the claim that no shareholder complained. They now have.

One should pity Kapil “zero-loss” Sibal. The job of defending the indefensible on behalf of the Gandhis continues to make a fool of this Congress lawyer repeatedly. One of the indefensibles is the National Herald caper, which was all about controlling the valuable real estate of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by shifting its ownership to a section 25 company run by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul (Young Indian Ltd). The Gandhis now have to stand trial and turn up in court, unless they can get the Supreme Court to uphold their stand.

Yesterday (10 December), Sibal said there was no cheating involved. The Times of India quoted him as saying; “Who has been cheated? No shareholder of AJL has complained, nor Congress has either. Subramanian Swamy, the complainant, belongs to the BJP. The essential ingredients of cheating are not made out.”

He had barely uttered these words when the redoubtable Shanti Bhushan, Law Minister in the 1977 Janata Party government and father of the eternal litigant Prashant Bhushan, proved him wrong. Apparently Shanti Bhushan’s dad was a shareholder in AJL, and Sibal was unaware of it – or else he would not have stated his case so challengingly.

AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN / AFP / RAVEENDRAN
AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN / AFP / RAVEENDRAN

Speaking about the dubious transfer of AJL properties to the mother-son controlled Young Indian Ltd, Bhushan told the TOI: “My father had taken the shares (in AJL) in 1938 in his name. I have initiated a process for substitution of his legal heirs as owners of those shares. Very surely, I will challenge it in court. The transfer of shares is wholly illegal.”

Sibal will now have to eat crow on the claim that no shareholder complained. They now have. As for his other claim, that the Congress too hasn’t complained about the use of its Rs 90 crore loan to enable the transfer, this is the most laughable. When has the Congress ever complained about any wrong the Gandhi family has done?

Those who do mutter have always had to quit the party. Even Manmohan Singh didn’t complain when Sonia Gandhi allowed A Raja to return as Communications Minister in UPA-2. We know where that story ended – in the 2G scam – and here too Kapil Sibal was asked to clean the muck. He tried to provide covering fire by claiming that there was zero-loss to the exchequer by selling underpriced spectrum to favoured parties – a charge upheld by the Supreme Court. ROFL, to use a much-used Twitter short-form.

The same thing happened to Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi, when, in 2012, he claimed that Rs 90 crore had been lent to the Gandhi outfit in order to revive National Herald. He was unaware that Rahul Gandhi’s office had earlier denied this very intent.

One has to pity the Sibals and Dwivedis of the world for the simple reason that they have to find convoluted reasons for the Gandhis’ often mala fide actions.

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