Hours after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari threatened to file a criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi if he does not apologise for his remarks against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Congress came out in Rahul’s defence, saying Swaraj’s actions attract provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “He (Rahul) says that there is a conflict of interest, there is impropriety, there is ethical malfeasance and other kinds of lack of ethics…at least one section of the Prevention of Corruption Act known as Section 13(1)(d) is implied,” Singhvi said.
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He pointed out that even former PM Manmohan Singh was sought to be prosecuted under that section in the coal block allocation case, but the Supreme Court found no material.
“There is a misconception that money has to exchange hands for 13 (1) (d) to be applied… if I am a public servant, I give you benefit and that benefit is proved to be without a public interest, then 13 (1) (d) can be made out, even without money changing hands. The Minister is a public servant and a huge benefit has been given…,” he said.
Singhvi added that the court would decide on Swaraj’s plea that her intervention to help former IPL chief Lalit Modi secure British travel documents was a humanitarian gesture.
“I think we all agree that humanitarian gestures are not made in hiding, in the dark by bypassing your ministry, by picking up the phone and talking to the High Commissioner while he is on a vacation and not sharing it with your ministry,” he said, adding that all the three conditions for charging 13 (1) (d) can be found in this case.
“Nobody is saying he or she is convicted. The only point that is being made is that all the three ingredients (of the PCA provision) are made out,” he said.