The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi in a defamation case filed by the Anil Ambani–led Reliance Naval and Engineering Limited, PTI reported. The company had filed a Rs 5,000-crore defamation case against Singhvi for making “false and defamatory” statements while talking about the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Justice Paresh Upadhyay asked Singhvi to reply by December 27.

On November 30, the Congress leader accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of “fooling people” by claiming that the government had not waived the loans of big defaulters and of saying the previous United Progressive Alliance government did not take any action against defaulters.

The government, Singhvi claimed, had written off Rs 1.88 lakh crore debt of wilful defaulters. “We all know that top 50 corporates owe Rs 8.35 lakh crore to banks and out of those, three top Gujarat-based companies – Reliance [the Anil Ambani Group], Adani and Essar – owe Rs 3 lakh crore.” Instead of declaring these liabilities non-performing assets, Jaitley was “trying to help the defaulter with further defence contracts like the Rafale deal”, Singhvi had alleged.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi had also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of altering India’s Rafale deal with France for the benefit of Anil Ambani, but the company denied these allegations.

Reliance Defence clarified that its joint venture with French firm Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the Rafale fighter jets, was a bilateral agreement between two private companies, and had nothing to do with the government.