Union minister Smriti Irani on Sunday sent a legal notice to Congress leaders after they asked her to resign after reports claimed that a Goa restaurant, allegedly run by her daughter, had obtained an illegal liquor licence.

The notice was sent to Congress leaders Pawan Khera, Jairam Ramesh and Netta D’ Souza.

The controversy erupted after Goa Excise Commissioner Narayan M Gad on Thursday issued a show cause notice to the restaurant, Silly Souls Cafe and Bar, that is allegedly run by the minister’s daughter Zoish Irani.

The licence was allegedly registered in the name of a Mumbai resident identified as Anthony Dgama. However, Gad’s notice said that the liquor licence was renewed in June, even though Dgama died on May 17, 2021.

Zoish Irani’s lawyer Kirat Nagra has claimed that his client neither owns nor operates the restaurant.

In the legal notice, Smriti Irani has demanded that the Congress leader issue a written apology and withdraw the allegations against her daughter.

“The false allegations were intended to hurt the reputation of our client as a minister and a person in public life, and also to outrage her modesty and that of her daughter,” the notice said.

It reiterated the minister’s stance that her daughter, has never been involved in running a bar in Goa.

“The insistence of addressees to invoke value systems of our client with a reference to her ‘sanskar’ [values] is an effort to make our client and her young daughter social outcasts by proclaiming that by the act of ‘running’ a bar our client and her young daughter are women of disrepute,” it said.

The notice added that the allegations were a part of a “larger conspiracy to garner political mileage” by claiming falsehoods, misrepresenting and creating false narratives and to injure Irani’s reputation, goodwill, social and political standing.

The case

The Goa excise department issued the show cause notice based on a complaint by lawyer Aires Rodrigues.

The excise regulations in Goa state that a bar licence can be given only to an existing restaurant.

But Rodrigues alleged that in the case of Silly Souls Cafe and Bar, the excise department issued one licence for foreign liquor and another one for Indian-made foreign liquor and country liquor in February 2021, even before the establishment had a restaurant permit.

Nagra, however, had claimed that his client had only done an internship with the chef of Silly Souls Cafe.

At a press conference, Irani had said that the Congress has “assassinated” and “publicly mutilated” her daughter’s character. She had dared the party to show proof of any wrongdoing.

Khera then pointed to a Moneycontrol article about a review of the restaurant by food critic Kunal Vijayakar that had termed Zoish Irani as its owner. Smriti Irani had shared the review on her Instagram, saying she was “so proud”.