Ashish Khetan’s response to our article
Subject: Apropos your article dated Oct 5, 2019
‘Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.’- Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
PGurus is entitled to its opinion about me, but not to its own facts. I would like to put the facts straight and would request you to publish them in full.
Fact 1: In 2011, I had written a piece ‘The Method in the CBI’ Method’, critiquing the CBI investigation into the 2G scam. Based on facts and documents of the CBI, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Ministry of Law & Justice, I had argued that CBI had been inconsistent and sloppy in its investigation and ‘had adopted different yardsticks for different accused.’ The piece is available publicly and can read by anyone. I had also cited the legal opinion of the then CBI Director of Prosecution who had written on the file that no criminal case can be built against Essar. No one has been able to point out any factual inaccuracy in my article to date.
Fact 2: In Dec 2017, a special CBI Court acquitted all 2G Scam accused including Essar saying that the CBI failed to prove its case. The judge said that the CBI had ‘nil evidence’ against the accused including Essar and its promoters.
Fact 3: I was not a party or privy to the sponsorships that Tehelka and its promoters received. I was an employee of Tehelka. I had no stake or shareholding in the publication. While I was at Tehelka, I did not receive a single rupee more than the salary which was agreed to as per my contract I had signed at the time of joining the publication.
Fact 4: I had said this in 2014. If anyone can furnish evidence of even 3 rupees, least of all Rs 3 crores, of any monetary benefit, in cash or kind, received by me, from any other corporate group or entity while I was a journalist, I would retire from public life.
Fact 5: I quit politics in August 2018. I hold two graduate degrees in commerce and law and two advanced degrees in corporate and economic law, including one from Cambridge University. I am a member of the Bar and hold a license to practice law. I don’t hold any public office. I do not claim to be a journalist or pose as a journalist. I am not a public interest or a PIL lawyer. At the moment, I am employed as an in-house corporate lawyer with Essar Ports. There is no conflict of interest between my current profession and my current job.
Fact 6: To date, no one has been able to furnish any evidence that I had been a beneficiary of any benefit, in cash or kind, in lieu of any of my written work. My challenge to my detractors remains in place. Even today if anyone can produce a shred of evidence that I got any monetary benefit for my journalistic writings on 2G Scam, I will surrender my license to practice law and will go back to my native place.
Fact 7: In 2012 Shantibhushan, noted lawyer and father of Prashant Bhushan, wrote and spoke in favor of Vodafone and backed the telecom company in its 3 billion dollar case against the Indian Revenue Authorities. Shanti argued that Vodafone was not liable to pay Rs 12000 crore in taxes. While Prashant Bhushan argued that Vodafone was avoiding paying capital gains taxes. Many including Prashant differed with his father but no one accuses Shanti of being bribed by Vodafone. It will be nice if Prashant learns to agree to disagree with people outside his family without automatically accusing them. Public interest is well served by facts, not by one’s opinions.
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