Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Monday said the payments he received from the Popular Front of India (PFI) had nothing to do with anti-CAA protests, and were made for his legal services offered in 2017 and 2018, much before the new law was passed. In a statement, the former union minister rubbished reports questioning the payments made to him by the PFI, and said he was paid for representing Hadiya in the famous case.
“I was paid for professional services rendered and for nothing else. Any insinuations made to besmirch my good name and defame me will be taken seriously,” he said in a statement. The Congress leader said the Enforcement Directorate has released a statement analysing the bank accounts of the Popular Front of India in which “my name has been mentioned as a recipient of Rs 77 lakh”. He said several news channels are running stories suggesting that the PFI is funding the anti-citizenship (amendment) act agitations and the payments made to him were connected with the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). “The CAA became a law only in December 2019. In all matters in which I have appeared in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the CAA, I have not raised, till date, any invoice in any matter,” he said.
The Congress, however, maintained silence on the issue. Sibal said that he was paid Rs 77 lakh in respect to a litigation in SLP of 2017 titled “Safin Jahan (petitioner) versus Asokan KM and others (Respondents)”, which related to Hadiya’s marriage to Shafin Jahan, which was challenged upto the Supreme Court with the NIA and the father of Hadiya being parties. “In that litigation, I represented Hadiya, the wife. Ultimately, the marriage was upheld and Hadiya was given the liberty to live with her husband Shafin Jahan,” he said. He said the cheques when received in his office were deposited and encashed by his staff.
“The first invoice was raised on August 4, 2017 and the last of the seven invoices was on March 8, 2018,” he said, adding that “The CAA was cleared by Parliament only in December 2019”. “I have raised the invoices on my Advocate on Record Mr Haris Beeran for each of the appearances,” he said, while releasing details of the payments he received from the PFI in the litigation. Congress leader Salman Khurshid said, “It is very easy to say something out of context. If somebody’s name has come who happens to be in legal profession, you must first find out that in routine legal appearances somebody has received any payment at all. Can’t just lightly damage somebody’s reputation and cause defamation.”