The Delhi High Court has observed on prima facie basis that Union minister Smriti Irani and her daughter Zoish Irani are not the owners of Silly Souls Café and Bar, a Goa restaurant that landed in controversy last week, Live Law reported on Monday.

The court also said that the Iranis have not been issued any licence for the establishment.

The controversy erupted after Goa Excise Commissioner Narayan M Gad issued a show cause notice to the restaurant, allegedly run by Zoish Irani. On July 23, the Congress demanded Irani’s resignation after reports claimed that her daughter had obtained an illegal liquor licence for the restaurant.

A day later, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader sent a legal notice to Congress leaders Pawan Khera, Jairam Ramesh and Netta D’ Souza for raising allegations against her daughter.

On July 29, the Delhi High Court ordered the Congress leaders to remove, within 24 hours, allegedly defamatory social media posts related to the Iranis. The court also issued notices to the three leaders seeking their reply on the civil defamation suit filed by the Union minister.

Th detailed order of the court was made available on Monday.

“Considering the documents on record, it is clearly seen that no licence which was ever issued in favour of the plaintiff or her daughter,” Justice Mini Pushkarna observed. “The plaintiff or her daughter are not the owners of the restaurant. It has also been established by the plaintiff prima facie that she or her daughter never applied for a licence.”

The judge noted that even the show cause notice issued by the Goa government was not addressed to the minister or her daughter, Live Law reported.

“Neither the restaurant nor the land on which the restaurant exists is owned by the plaintiff or her daughter,” the judge said. “All these facts have been affirmed in the affidavit by the plaintiff.”

The judge further said slanderous and libellous allegations were made against the Iranis without verifying facts to garner viewership, ridiculing the minister on public platforms, Bar and Bench reported.

“There is imperative need to protect the reputation of an individual, least to say, that of the plaintiff who is a respected member of the society and esteemed member of the Union ministry,” the judge said.

The case

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

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. Nagra also said that his client had only done an internship with the chef of Silly Souls Cafe.

As Irani denied owning the establishment, Congress leader Khera referred to a Moneycontrol article – a review of the restaurant by food critic Kunal Vijayakar that had named the minister’s daughter as its owner. Smriti Irani had shared the review on her Instagram handle, saying she was “so proud”