Kapil Sibal (born 8 August 1948) is an Indian politician belonging to the Indian National Congress party. A lawyer, he formerly served at the helm of various ministries in the Congress-led UPA government over the years – beginning with the Ministry of Science & Technology, then the Ministry of Human Resource Development followed by the Ministry of Communications & IT, and the Ministry of Law & Justice.
Sibal was first nominated in July 1998, as a Member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, from the state of Bihar. He served as Additional Solicitor General of India (December 1989 – December 1990) and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association on three occasions (1995–96, 1997–98 and 2001–2002). In 2004 general elections, he won the Chandni Chowk constituency of New Delhi with 71% vote share. In 2014 general elections, he received 18% of the votes and trailed at third position for Chandni Chowk constituency, behind.
Early life and education
Sibal was born on 8 August 1948 in Jalandhar in Punjab. His family migrated to India during the partition in 1947. Kapil Sibal moved to Delhi in 1964. After his schooling from St John’s High School, he joined St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, he earned his LL.B degree from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, and later an M.A. in history. He joined the bar association in 1972. In the year 1973, he qualified for Indian Administrative Services and was offered an appointment. But he declined the offer and decided to set up his own law practice. Afterwards, he attended the Harvard Law School where he enrolled for an LL.M. which he completed in 1977. He was designated as senior lawyer in 1983. In 1989, he was appointed the Additional Solicitor General of India. In 1994, he was the only lawyer to appear in the Parliament, and successfully defended a Supreme Court judge during impeachment proceedings. The impeachment motion was placed in the assembly for debate and voting on 10 May 1993. Of 401 members present in the assembly that day, there were 196 votes for impeachment and no votes against and 205 abstentions by ruling Congress and its allies. He had served as the President of the Supreme Court Bar association on three occasions, i.e. 1995–1996, 1997–1998 and 2001–2002.
Kapil Sibal takes over the charge of Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology in New Delhi 24 May 2004
Kapil Sibal joined the Bar association in 1972. He decided to set up his own law practice. He was designated as a Senior Lawyer in 1983. He was the Additional Solicitor General of India between 1989 and 1990, as well. An anthology of Kapil Sibal’s poems titled I Witness: Partial Observation was published by Roli Books, New Delhi, in August 2008. He has also contributed several articles on various prominent issues such as security, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism in national dailies and periodicals. In the 2004 general elections, Sibal became an MP by winning the Chandni Chowk constituency against TV actor Smriti Irani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the National Capital Territory representing the Congress Party and was inducted into the Cabinet under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as Union Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences. He won the constituency of Chandni Chowk for the second time for the Indian National Congress in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009.
Over the years, he has held several important positions in the Government of India and the Society, such as: Additional Solicitor General of India (December 1989 – 1990); Member, Board of Management, Indira Gandhi National Open University (1993); President, Supreme Court Bar Association (1995–96, 1997–98 and 2001–2002); Member, Rajya Sabha (July 1998); Member, Executive Council, Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies (July, 2001); Member, Business Advisory Committee (August, 2001); Member, Committee on Home Affairs (January, 2002); Co-chairman, Indo-US Parliamentary Forum (2002); Member, Board of International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (2002); Member, Programme Board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation‘s Indian AIDS initiative (2003); Member, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention set up by the Human Rights Commission, Geneva.
During his tenure as Telecom Minister his comment about the loss in the 2G spectrum case being only notional and causing “zero loss” created a public outcry and he had to clarify it later. Kapil Sibal was indicted by CAG for favoring M/S Phoenix Rose LLC by overlooking rules and regulations and handpicking that company for creating a database for over 500,000 working professionals of People of Indian Origin settled in the US. CAG’s report said that the project’s cost was $120,000 but three years after the initiation, the company has dumped the networking site, completing just over 16% of the targeted work.
He represented India in the Annual Meetings of the World Economic Forum in 2005 and 2009 held at Davos, Switzerland. He led the Indian delegation to the Annapolis Conference, USA, held to gather International support for establishment of a Palestinian state and the realization of Israeli–Palestinian peace during November 2007. He led the Indian delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Bali in December 2007.
Sibal approved the creation of an Indian Institute of Technology Muddenahalli as part of the 11th 5-year plan. He is also the person who introduced the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system in India for Class IX and Class X and he has also started the changes in the IIT JEE pattern. He has laid the foundation stone for IIT Patna.
After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Sibal announced that a fresh onslaught of deadly tsunami were likely along the India southern coast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, even though was no sign of turbulence in the region.
The announcement was a false alarm and the Home Affairs minister withdrew their announcement. Three days after the announcement, Indian National Congress president Sonia Gandhi called Science & Technology minister Kapil Sibal to express her concern about Sibal’s 30 December public warning being “hogwash“.
Kapil Sibal has penned down the lyrics of the songs “Tere bina” and “Mast hawa” for 2016 Hindi film Shorgul.
Kapil Sibal’s father was H. L. Sibal, a renowned advocate, his family migrated to India during the partition in 1947. In 1994, H.L. Sibal was named a “Living Legend of the Law” by the International Bar Association and in 2006, the Government of India honoured him with the ‘Padma Bhushan’ award for his distinguished services in the field of Public Affairs. He married Nina Sibal in 1973, who died of breast cancer in 2000. Amit and Akhil, Sibal’s two sons from his first marriage, are both lawyers. In 2005, Sibal married Promila Sibal. His brother is Kanwal Sibal, a retired top diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service, and a former foreign secretary of India.