ew Delhi, November 22
Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Wednesday slammed the Enforcement Directorate for attaching assets of the Congress-promoted National Herald newspaper and described it as a “new low in politics”.
Sibal, a former Congress leader, also alleged that the probe agency has been acting at the behest of the “powers that be”.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Tuesday that it has attached immovable assets and equity shares worth about Rs 752 crore as part of its ongoing money-laundering investigation against the National Herald newspaper and companies linked to it.
The provisional attachment order came as elections in five states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram are in progress and the counting of votes is scheduled to be held on December 3.
In a post on X, Sibal said, “Young Indian(YI), Associated Journals Ltd(AJL), ED attaches 752cr worth properties of AJL. Allege: YI shareholders owners of AJL’s assets Cheating and Breach of trust. Law: Shareholders are never owners of company’s assets. YI a not for profit company. A new low in politics.”
Speaking with PTI later, the senior advocate said, “When ignorance is bliss, it is a folly to be wise. I don’t think the ED should be ignorant about the law. A shareholder is a shareholder, the property is owned by the company.”
“If the company goes into liquidation… nothing comes to the shareholder. So who has cheated who? Where is the breach of trust? Who has conspired? I think they know the law. I think courts also know the law. So I am a little baffled,” Sibal said.
But what has happened in the country today is that the ED is acting on the instructions of the powers that be, he said.
“The other thing which is more important is that it is a Section 25 company, it is not for profit. If AGL is wound up, it will go to another not for profit company. Young India will go to another not for profit company,” Sibal said.
“The problem in this country is that we have a narrative that is associated with the media and the narrative is started by investigating agencies to destroy people’s reputation. Now this trial will take years and the powers that be will go from speech to speech before 2024 polls… they will say see these people have cheated when we all know there is no basis for this,” he added.
The Congress termed the ED action “petty vendetta tactics” and said the agency is a “coalition partner” of the BJP which, it claimed, is staring at a certain defeat in the Assembly polls.
Sibal, who was a Union minister during UPA I and II, quit the Congress in May last year and was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an Independent member with the Samajwadi Party’s support.
He has floated a non-electoral platform ‘Insaaf’ aimed at fighting injustice.