Rejecting Bharatiya Janata Party's charge that he was shielding Tarun Tejpal, Union Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said law must take its course in the sexual assault case against the Tehelka editor and if he is guilty, he should be punished.
"Whatever has happened, law must take its course. If a person is guilty, he must be punished. If he is not guilty, he must not be punished," Sibal told reporters in New Delhi.
At the same time, he maintained that he is "not going to give judgment like other leaders have done. It is not my job. It sends a very wrong signal."
Amid speculation in media that he is related to Tejpal, the Union minister said sarcastically, "I have a nephew called Tarun Sibal. So are all the Taruns in this country related to me?"
He rubbished BJP's charge that he was shielding Tejpal and also vehemently denied the contention that he was a shareholder in Tejpal's company.
Sibal said he never applied for the shares and the sum of Rs 5 lakh that he "donated" for Tehelka was his way of "protecting the freedom of expression". He recalled that he had given a cheque of Rs 5 lakh to Tehelka when Tejpal had come to him seeking help when his venture was facing "persecution" by the National Democratic Alliance government.
"He went to several personalities. He came to me also. I did not know him. That was a donation. That had nothing to do with seeking shares. He had asked me for support to start a newspaper...I was protecting the freedom of expression. That is how I am a founder member of Tehelka. But I have never applied for shares," the minister said.
When it was pointed out that documents showed he indeed had shares in Tejpal's company, Sibal said, "Tejpal may have done (it)...I am not concerned with it. The fact is that there is no official allotment of shares to me. There is a law for it. I have to apply for that first and I have never applied for any share."
On being pressed further, he said hypothetically speaking even if he has shares in some company, how could he be held responsible for some wrong doing by any official of the company.