The Silly Souls Café and Bar in Goa, which has been at the centre of a political controversy since June, was run under a lease to a company linked to Union minister Smriti Irani, The Indian Express reported on Friday, citing reply to a Right to Information application.
The response to the RTI application filed by lawyer and activist Aires Rodrigues showed that the restaurant operated under a lease agreement between a person named Dean D’Gama, the attorney of his father Anthony D’Gama and a company named Eightall Food and Beverages Limited Liability Partnership.
On August 2, the The Indian Express had reported that companies owned by Irani’s family have invested in Eightall Food and Beverages.
The minister’s daughter Zoish Irani, her son Zohr Irani, husband Zubin Irani and his daughter Shanelle Irani own two firms named Ugraya Mercantile Private Limited and Ugraya Agro Farms Private Limited, which invested in Eightall Food and Beverages in 2020-2021
Smriti Irani, however, does not own shares in any of the three companies.
Documents accessed through the RTI application show that the lease agreement between Dean D’Gama and Eightall Food and Beverages was signed on January 1, 2021. The lease was for ten years at a rent of Rs 50,000 per month.
On July 23, 2021, Goa’s Food and Drug Administration had issued a Food Safety and Standards Authority licence, bearing the number 10621001000195, to Eightall Food and Beverages, according to The Wire.
The Silly Souls Café and Bar is registered with the Food Safety and Standards Authority under the same licence number.
On July 24, the Congress had sought Irani’s resignation after reports claimed that the Silly Souls Goa Café and Bar, allegedly run by her daughter Zoish Irani, had renewed its liquor licence illegally.
In response to the allegations, Zoish Irani’s lawyer Kirat Nagra claimed that his client neither owns nor operates the restaurant. Nagra also said that his client had only interned with the chef of Silly Souls Café.
On July 29, the Delhi High Court observed on a prima facie basis that Smriti Irani and Zoish Irani are not the owners of Silly Souls Café and Bar. It ordered the Congress leaders to remove, within 24 hours, allegedly defamatory social media posts related to the Iranis.
The court also issued notices to Congress leaders Pawan Khera, Jairam Ramesh and Netta D’ Souza seeking their reply on a civil defamation suit filed by the Union minister.