As telecom minister in the Manmohan Singh government, Kapil Sibal desperately defended Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, the “open-ended, undefined, and vague" anti-free speech law struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015. Now, he has been brought in by the Editors Guild of India to “advise and work” on “important issues pertaining to press freedom”.
“The panel will help the guild craft responses to the complex web of civil and criminal laws that are used by authorities to suppress media freedom,” the association said in a statement on Wednesday.
It is not yet clear if the guild roping in Sibal is some prank. For only last year, the Congress leader and top lawyer forced an on journalists working at Tiranga TV, a news channel owned by his wife, Promilaa Sibal, that was shuttered soon after the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
Barkha Dutt, the face of Tiranga TV, had called out the Congress leader soon after the channel conked out. "What is most shameful is that Kapil Sibal earns crores every day and won’t pay 200 employees the industry norm of 6 months or at least 3 months pay out, ruining the lives of 200 plus people," she .
Over a dozen employees laid off from the channel had protested their shabby treatment. Sibal’s face, in fact, was on their protest poster with the text, “All are invited to join silent protest for our rights.”
There are six other people beside Sibal on the guild’s legal advisory panel – the lawyers Shyam Divan, Rajiv Nayar, Sanjay Hegde, Menaka Guruswamy, Prashant Kumar, and Shahrukh Alam.
The guild’s statement states that it will expand the panel in the coming days to include “members of the legal fraternity” from different states.
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