After accusing The Tribune of doing its investigative series on Punjab’s first family under the influence of the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal in a petition to the Election Commission has now made the preposterous charge that it was also 'paid news.’The depth of research obvious in the reports on the business interests of the Badal, Majithia and Kairon families — which have members in the highest positions in the Punjab Government — would make it clear to even the most casual observer that these could only be the result of diligent work by a professional organisation. To suggest that such reports had a monetary intent or were sponsored by a political party is farcical to say the least.It should require no reiteration that a serious conflict between the interests of the ruling families referred to and the public becomes evident from the information revealed by The Tribune. Moreover, the SAD complaint does not point to any inaccuracies in the entirely factual reports, on which versions of the people referred to in them were published with due diligence.
The SAD has also displayed utmost disregard for decorum in public life by accusing members of The Tribune Trust of being "aides" of a political leader. This newspaper of 133 years' unblemished standing takes pride in declaring that The Tribune Trustees are personalities who have attained the highest levels in the fields of public service they dedicated their lifetime to. The absolute absence of any personal gain for them in steering The Tribune makes any aspersions beyond the pale. It is this unique structure that enables The Tribune to be regarded as one of the most respected, unbiased and professional newspapers, which has public interest as the only guiding principle.While denying in entirety all allegations of favour, bias or 'paid news' made by the SAD, The Tribune will defend itself in any forum that questions its cherished ideals of truth, integrity and public service, always and every time.