It seems like the Kapil Sibal-Barkha Dutt-Tiranga TV love story is going to be a tale for the ages as Barkha Dutt has moved the Patiala House Courts against Congress leader Kapil Sibal and his wife Promila Sibal, and their company Analog Media Private Limited, demanding damages of over Rs 74 lakh with interest, after the sudden shutting down of the English news channel Tiranga TV in July.
Earlier the court had issued summons against the promoters Kapil Sibal and Promila Sibal in a civil suit filed by Dutt. It looks like the ex-NDTV journalist is looking to corner the husband-wife duo in the legal tussle. Who would have thought that Kapil Sibal, an INC leader, and Barkha Dutt, a well-known INC supporter would be at loggerheads after being thick as thieves for so long. Well indeed, life is funny and in this case it has come full circle for Barkha Dutt.
Represented by advocates Raghav Awasthi and Mukesh Sharma, Barkha has claimed in her plea that she was assured that the channel would continue to function for at least two years. Calculating the amount owed to her, including her pending salary, remuneration for extra work and compensation for breach of contract, she has demanded an amount of Rs 74,02,140, at 18 per cent interest, according to a report by ThePrint. When the news of the mass lay off of employees at Tiranga TV first broke out, many people on social media questioned Barkha Dutt for her silence on the issue. At that time, Barkha, who initially was not so keen on the issue of employees being laid off, became the voice of the campaign when Congress leader Kapil Sibal threw her under the bus and threatened her of defamation suit for likening him to Vijay Mallya.
The convenient match of the two propaganda dwellers had gone sour earlier this year after Narendra Modi led NDA quashed the dreams and propaganda of both the superior beings. The Congress leader had launched the controversial channel ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and it had some big left-liberal names like Barkha Dutt and Karan Thapar on the roster. However, when the channel fell off the chart, Kapil Sibal had to do massive layoffs. The channel not only laid off the employees without any valid reason but also refused to provide them a compensatory salary or severance package to help them guide over the tumultuous period.
Earlier this year, Barkha Dutt had gone out to lash the Congress leader, stating that he had treated journalists “in a hideous way”. In a long twitter thread, Dutt not only pointed out how the network is laying off employees without even due notice period, but also how the employees who were brought on board barely months ago are being summarily dismissed. Furthermore, Barkha Dutt highlighted the thoroughly unprofessional behaviour of Kapil Sibal’s wife who is also in the management of the company and the couple’s absolute disdain for the journalists. Barkha Dutt also revealed that Kapil Sibal wanted to blame the Modi government for the sacking of the employees but according to her the Modi government posed no hindrance to the operations of the channel.
Kapil Sibal has been known for his callous ways, both in practicing law and his business and when he started a “fake news” channel in an attempt to influence the 2019 general elections, and Barkha being Barkha immediately joined the bandwagon and started peddling her lies and false stories through a medium where she had the utmost freedom of being completely biased and selective in her reporting. Must have been good few months for Barkha who had an outlet to vent her anger after she had been rendered unemployed since BJP came to power in 2014. The bootlicking that Barkha did during the UPA government paid dividends when she won the Padma Shri in 2008 with two equally and fascinating ‘liberal’ journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Vinod Dua.
It needs to be seen what the endgame of the whole judicial process is, but in any case it’s not Barkha or Sibal who are bearing the brunt of the issue. It is the employees who were not paid their dues and left hanging in the middle fending for themselves. The squabbling of both these ‘privileged’ might go on for a long time but Barkha Dutt has played on the front foot, for now.