Kapil Sibal

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Kapil Sibal
Portrait of Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal at 2008 World Economic Forum
Law and Justice
Assumed office
11 May 2013
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Preceded by Ashwani Kumar
Minister of Communications and Information Technology
Assumed office
15 November 2010
Preceded by A. Raja
Minister of Human Resource Development
In office
22 May 2009 – 28 October 2012
Preceded by Arjun Singh
Succeeded by Pallam Raju
Minister of Science and Technology
In office
22 May 2004 – 2010
Preceded by Vijay Goel
Succeeded by Pawan Kumar Bansal
Minister of Earth Sciences
In office
22 May 2004 – 2010
Succeeded by Pawan Kumar Bansal
Member of Lok Sabha
Assumed office
Constituency Chandni Chowk
Personal details
Born (1948-08-08) 8 August 1948 (age 65)
Jalandhar, Punjab
Nationality Indian
Political party Indian National Congress
Spouse(s) Nina Sibal (deceased)(1973-2000)
Promila Sibal
Children 2 sons
Residence New Delhi
Alma mater University of Delhi (M.A./LL.B.)
Harvard Law School (LL.M.)
Profession Politician, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Religion Hindu
Website Kapil Sibal
As of 5 June, 2011

Kapil Sibal (born 8 August 1948) is an Indian politician. A lawyer, he has been at the helm of various ministries in the Congress lead UPA government over the years – beginning with the Ministry of Science & Technology, then the Ministry of Human Resource Development and currently he is in charge of both the Ministry of Communications & IT, and the Ministry of Law & Justice in the First Manmohan Singh Cabinet.

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).[1] In 2004, he was elected from the Chandni Chowk constituency of New Delhi as a Member of Parliament. He was inducted in the cabinet of Manmohan Singh as Union Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences.

Early life and education[edit]

Sibal was born on 8 August 1948 in Jalandhar in Punjab. His family was rendered homeless and his father was forced to migrate to India during partition.[2] Kapil Sibal moved to Delhi in 1964. After his schooling from St John's High School in Chandigarh, he joined St. Stephen's college, University of Delhi, where he earned his LL.B degree, and later an M.A. in history. He joined the bar association in 1970. 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.[3] 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.[4]


Kapil Sibal joined the Bar association in 1970. He decided to set up his own law practice.[1][5] He was designated as a Senior Lawyer in 1983. He was the Additional Solicitor General of India between 1989 and 1990, as well.[1][6]

An anthology of Kapil Sibal's poems titled I Witness: Partial Observation was published by Roli Books, New Delhi,[7] 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 scam being only notional and causing "zero loss"[8] created a public outcry[9] and he had to clarify it later.[10] 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.[11]

Also during his time in that office, his move to regulate internet content[12] was criticized across many social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.[13]

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.[14] 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

Political and social views[edit]

Sibal shakes hands with Barack Obama at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 2010.

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) and $35 Laptop[edit]

In 2011 Sibal has also announced a touchscreen tablet computer to be co-developed with private partnership. It was to be available to students for INR1500 (US$25). Satish Jha, chairman of OLPC India, the leading competitor to this venture, questioned his claim that a $35 laptop could be created in a year.[15] Five state Chief Ministers endorsed the OLPC initiative and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan himself inaugurated the project on the day Sibal showcased his future laptop. The event was attended by two members of the Union Cabinet.[16][17] This also lead to an open letter by Nicholas Negroponte offering him complete access to MIT and OLPC technologies to help realise India's dream to create a laptop of its own.[18] The computer was eventually released online as the UbiSlate7C1 tablet PC at INR4199 (US$70) and the Ubislate7C+ tablet PC at INR5199 (US$87)[19] As of February 2012, Datawind had over 1,400,000 pre-orders, but had only shipped 10,000 units - 0.7% of orders.[20] As of November 2012, many customers who put in orders still had not received their computers and were offered refunds.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Kapil Sibal's father was H.L. Sibal, a renowned advocate, was rendered homeless along with his entire family during partition. 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.[22] He married Nina Sibal in 1973, who died of breast cancer in 2000.[23] Amit and Akhil, Sibal's two sons from his first marriage, are both lawyers.[24] In 2005, Sibal married social activist Promila Sibal.[25][26][27] His brother is Kanwal Sibal who is the former Foreign Secretary of India.


  1. ^ a b c Minister for Earth Sciences, Govt. of India: Shri Kapil Sibal Ministry of Earth Sciences website.
  2. ^ "Birthplace of Sibal". National Portal of India. Government of India. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  3. ^ alumni 1977, List of Harvard Law School. "Listings and photographs of faculty, students". Harvard Law School. Harvard Law School Catalog. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Sibal, Detail about. "Short Biography of Kapil Sibal". Preserve Article Press. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Kapil Sibal Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
  6. ^ Kapil Sibal, Hon'ble Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Ministry of Science and Technology
  7. ^ Reddy, Sheela (8 September 2008). "A Couple Of Syllables". Outlook India. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "No loss to Govt from 2G spectrum allocation: Sibal". Hindu Businessline. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Ninan, T N. "Sibal's 'zero loss' claim carries zero credibility". Rediff. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "I never said zero loss if spectrum was auctioned: Kapil Sibal". The Economic Times. PTI. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "CAG indictment adds to Kapil Sibal troubles". Daily News and Analysis. 11 July 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  12. ^ Timmons, Heather (5 December 2011). "India Asks Google, Facebook to Screen User Content". Newyork Times. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  13. ^ Iyer, Srividya (7 December 2011). "Kapil Sibal under attack: Twitter, Facebook users target him". Times of India. Retrieved December 28, 2011. 
  14. ^ 'IIT at Muddenahalli in 11th plan'. Deccanherald.com. Retrieved on 2011-01-22.
  15. ^ Article – OLPC picks holes in govt’s laptop agenda. Epaper.timesofindia.com (26 July 2010). Retrieved on 2011-01-22.
  16. ^ OLPC Stall Pics ((nogallary)) – LUG@IITD Community Blog. Lug-iitd.posterous.com (23 July 2010). Retrieved on 2011-01-22.
  17. ^ "Laptop experience for Rajasthan villagers". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 29 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Article – $35 laptop: OLPC founder wants stress on design. Epaper.timesofindia.com (29 July 2010). Retrieved on 2011-01-22.
  19. ^ UbiSlate device specifications ubislate.com, Retrieved on 1 March 2013.
  20. ^ Aakash lurches toward another crisis as India loses patience with DataWind Engadget, Retrieved on 1 March 2013.
  21. ^ Datawind to clear all paid orders for Aakash in 6 weeks The Hindu Business Line, Retrieved on 1 March 2013.
  22. ^ https://www.kapilsibal.in/about-me/personal-profile/
  23. ^ The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Nation. Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved on 2011-01-22.
  24. ^ Basu, Arundhati (12 November 2005). "Legally speaking". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  25. ^ Bishakha De Sarkar (24 August 2008). "‘When I’m in politics, I stick to the party line; when I’m a poet, I don’t’". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  26. ^ Chadha, Kum Kum (10 February 2006). "Kapil da dhaba". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  27. ^ <http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune-times/No-politricks-for-Kapil-Sibal/articleshow/44009939.cms>

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ashwani Kumar
Minister of Law and Justice
Preceded by
Andimuthu Raja
Minister of Communications and Information Technology
Preceded by
Arjun Singh
Minister of Human Resource Development
Succeeded by
Pallam Raju