The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday alleged that telecom and law minister Kapil Sibal was trying to help the telecom giant Vodafone in a Rs. 11,000-crore income tax dispute. The Congress and the government rejected the charge.
Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan also questioned the role of union finance minister P Chidambaram and attorney general GE Vahanvati in the deal.
They said it was a case of conflict of interest since Sibal's lawyer son, Amit Sibal, was representing Hutchinson, which was in partnership with Vodafone, in the Delhi High Court. Amit said it was completely false.
"The last time I appeared for a telecom firm was on April 22, 2010, much before Sibal became the telecom minister in November that year," Amit said.
Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed also defended Sibal, saying Sibal's son had given up the case before he became the telecom minister.
The activists said the undue haste shown by Sibal in endorsing the finance ministry proposal for an out-of-court conciliation with Vodafone on his first day in office as law minister was not free from doubt.
"The Supreme Court had ruled in January 2012 that Vodafone had no tax liability, but Parliament passed an amendment to the I-T Act making it mandatory for the firm to pay the outstanding tax. How can these ministries subvert a law?" Bhushan said.
Sources close to Sibal dismissed the allegations saying the matter was sent by the finance ministry and the law ministry' role was confined to giving its opinion on whether it agreed or disagreed with it.