Khurshid’s wife files case against TV channel
A day after Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s wife, Louise Khurshid, filed a civil defamation case in the Delhi High Court against the TV Today group, she launched a frontal attack on the media group for airing a programme alleging that their Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust has siphoned off lakhs of rupees meant for physically challenged people.
She also hit out at India against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal for publicising these “baseless allegations” and demanding Mr. Khurshid’s resignation. Ms. Khurshid said she would also file cases against the TV Today group in Mumbai and in Farrukhabad: in 16 other districts of Uttar Pradesh, too, cases would be filed.
Describing the stories run by the TV Today group on its Hindi and English channels as “false, malicious and baseless,” Ms. Khurshid, Project Director of the Trust, said all their papers “were open to scrutiny.”
She stressed that on September 17, 2012, she herself had written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister asking him to conduct an enquiry “so that the truth is revealed and it is established that the Trust has not forged any signatures of any officers of the State of U.P.,” as was alleged in the programmes. Would she have done that, she asked, had she been guilty?
The stories aired thus far have suggested that the Trust, which received Rs. 71.5 lakh from the Union Ministry of Social Justice for 2009-10 camps, misused the funds intended for equipment for the physically challenged, that signatures of officers concerned were forged and that a report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General questioned the manner in which the money was used.
Answering these charges, Ms. Khurshid said she had all the bills, proof that camps were held, and utilisation certificates to dispute the allegations. She also checked with the CAG’s office and discovered that the Social Justice Ministry had not answered its queries, that the report being referred to was just a draft and could not be considered a final report until the Trust’s responses were taken on board.
On Monday, Ms. Khurshid’s answers will be submitted to the CAG. She also pointed out that 34 camps were held in 17 districts in U.P. in 2009-10; at the first camp in each district, an assessment was made of what would be required and at the second, the Trust representatives distributed the equipment. In all, 2,353 tricycles, wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, walking sticks for the blind etc, were handed out, she said, but the TV channel had “tarnished the work of the entire Trust by taking video clips of three individuals, the veracity of whose claims is not established … If we had done a fraud on such a mass scale, wouldn’t they have found thousands of people [who did not get the equipment]?” She also pointed out that while the Social Justice Ministry had given the Trust Rs. 71.5 lakh, of which 95 per cent was spent on the equipment, it had actually spent Rs. 77.87 lakh, mobilising the rest through local donations.