Lawyer Fees Termed as Sibal Receiving Funds from PFI for Instigating Protest against CAA

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Congress Leader Kapil Sibal

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Reacting to the allegations of receiving funds by social organisation the Popular Front of India(PFI) for ‘instigating anti-CAA protests, Supreme Court senior advocate and senior Congress leader, Kapil Sibal on Monday rubbished such talks. The Popular Front of India (PFI) also strongly condemned the allegations and termed these as “baseless and unfounded”. In specific, it rejected the charge it collected funds to fan the protests.

Some TV news channels quoted “unnamed sources” from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as saying the PFI funded prominent lawyers and others to fan the CAA protests. The reports claimed the PFI operated around 73 bank accounts and said some Rs.120crore was transferred through these to fund the anti-CAA protests. The media report also provided details of the money given by PFI to senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising.

Terming these claims as fabricated and absolutely without any basis, Sibal said PFI had transferred the money to his account way back in March 2018 by way of lawyer fees owed to him for representing the front in the Hadiya case. He got no money in relation to the anti-CAA protests, he said.

Sibal provided the details of the money he got in the Hadiya case. The first bill was given by him on August 4, 2017, and the last bill on March 8, 2018; and these payments were received to him before March 2018, he said.

Sibal, a former Union law minister, said these were politically motivated allegations to paint the ongoing anti-CAA protests in black colour, as the stir has unnerved the ruling BJP and the Modi government.

Dushyant Dave, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, also rubbished the allegations. He sent a strongly worded message to the Zee Media which played up the matter. “Sir, we appeared in the Hadiya case thrice, on behalf of the petitioners, on- 03.10.2017, 09.10.2017 and 30.10.2017. One bill was raised for our appearance on 09.10.2017, for which we received the fee on 30.10.2017. There was also a statement from the PFI detailing the amount spent by way of litigation fee on 28.03.2018 in the Hadiya case,” Dave said in a WhatsApp message to Zee Media.

Dave also pointed out that he stood by the causes of the minorities all the time in the past, be it Sikhs or Muslims or others. He also slammed the judiciary for ordering an investigation into the Haidya marriage case. “It was a sad commentary on the judiciary that a love marriage was given intense judicial and police scrutiny merely because the two were from different religions,” Dave stated.

INDIRA JAISING

However, Indira Jaising “completely and vehemently” denied receiving “any money” from the PFI “at any point of time.” She also denied receiving money from anybody in connection with the anti-CAA protests.

The PFI reacted sharply to allegations against it through a select band of media. Rebutting all the allegations, one by one, front general secretary Mohammed Ali Jinnah said the news channels quoted “unnamed sources” of the ED, but the ED never contacted c the organization, nor did it issue any such official statement.

Speaking to Caravan Daily, Jinnah said all the fees given to these prominent lawyers in the Hadiya case by the organization has been in the public domain. “The Popular Front of India had stated multiple times that we fully comply with the law of the land and the allegation of Rs.120crore transferred from the Popular Front’s accounts just before the CAA protest is totally baseless. The people leveling these allegations should prove these,” he said.

“The truth is the transfers were made in 2017 as lawyer fee for advocates in the Hadiya Case. This transfer was openly declared by the Popular Front in various public meetings. Attributing a fee transfer that happened in 2017 as a funding for the 2019 CAA protests is totally absurd and exposes the intention of some agencies to defame Popular Front.”

Another allegation leveled against the PFI was of transfer of funds to the Popular Front’s Kashmir wing. He said the Popular Front did not have any wing or branch in Jammu and Kashmir. “We challenge the so called “unnamed sources” to prove that there is a wing for the Popular Front in Kashmir.”

However, Jinnah said the front carried out extensive flood relief works in Kashmir in 2014 and built more than 100 houses for the flood victims. This was also done openly, and announced through official publications. “We are confident that the fate of these series of allegation will also be like the ones raised against the PFI in the past, none of which could ever be proven.”

He said the UP and Assam governments recently alleged a role for the Popular Front in the anti-CAA protest related violence and even arrested the state level leaders of the organisation. “But their claims proved to be nothing more than their imaginations and they could not prove anything in court, and our leaders were released on bail,” he said.

Jinnah asserted that the Front will not be bowed down by such cheap campaign by the forces backed by fascists who wanted to stop the PFI in its tracks. “This is an attempt by government agencies, by using a section of the media, to defame the ongoing anti-CAA protests, which has now spread to all over the world,” he added.

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