At a time when Rahul Gandhi has been leading Congress' charge against what he claims has been a suspicious deal with France for Rafale fighter jets, Anil Ambani has filed a Rs 5000 crore defamation suit against party mouthpiece National Herald for an article published in the paper.
Labelling the article as 'libellous and derogatory', Anil Ambani's Reliance Group companies have taken on National Herald and filed two suits. The first is against Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of the National Herald, its editor in-charge and the author of the article. The second suit was filed Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil seeking Rs 5,000 crore in damages for defamation.
The contentious article claimed that Anil Ambani had established Reliance Defence as a company ten days before PM Modi announced the Rafale deal. Reliance Aerostructure Ltd would go on to enter into a joint-venture with Dassault Aviation - the makers of Rafale jets. DA agreed to pump in 100 million Euros in the joint venture after India inked a deal to purchase 36 Rafale jets from France.
Congress has repeatedly claimed that the jets have been purchased at an escalated cost and has also questioned the joint venture between Anil Ambani's company and 'DA. The questions raised have been strongly taken on by the business tycoon who has said that the Congress is running a vilification campaign against him. He even said that the Centre has had no role in DA picking Reliance Group as a partner.
A number of defamation suits were previously filed against Congress leaders like Randeep Surjewala who have been at the forefront of the party's attack.
The two suits were filed by Reliance Defence, Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Aerostructure, which belong to Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.
The first suit is against Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of the National Herald, its editor in-charge Zafar Agha, and author of the article, Vishwadeepak.
The second suit is against Gohil, who as a Congress spokesperson reportedly had made certain allegations about the Rafale fighter jet deal and Anil Ambani's firms.
The suits were filed yesterday in the court of city civil and sessions judge P J Tamakuwala, who issued notices to the respondents and sought replies by 7 September, said advocate P S Champaneri who is representing both the National Herald and Gohil.
The suit against the newspaper alleged that the article titled 'Anil Ambani floated Reliance Defence 10 days before Modi announced Rafale deal' was libellous and defamatory, and it "misleads the general public to believe that undue business favours are being extended to them by the government of the day".
The article conveys a "negative image" and "adversely affects the public perception" of Reliance Group and its chairman Ambani, it said.
It has caused "considerable damage" to reputation and goodwill of plaintiff firms, it said, seeking damages of Rs 5,000 crore.
The plaintiffs "vehemently" deny the content of the article, the petition said.
Earlier, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group had sent legal notices to several Congress leaders, asking them to "cease and desist" from levelling allegations against the company in connection with Rafale deal.