The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank has filed criminal defamation complaints against Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, the lender’s advocate SV Raju told Scroll.in on Monday. Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah is one of the bank’s directors.
The Congress leaders had shared a news report in June that claimed demonetised notes worth Rs 745 crore had been exchanged at the bank within five days of the government’s announcement of the note ban in November 2016.
“One [complaint] is against Surjewala who defamed the bank and its office bearers by making false claims that Rs 745 crore worth of old notes were exchanged, and for saying that this is a national-level scam,” said Raju, who represents the bank and its Chairperson Ajay Patel. “The case against Rahul Gandhi is for tweeting these false claims.”
The complaints have been filed under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows magistrates to take cognisance of a matter. They can then inquire into the complaint on their own, or direct an investigation by a subordinate magistrate or a police officer. The hearing is scheduled for September 17, SV Raju added.
The news report was first published by the Indo-Asian News Service on the basis of the findings of a Right to Information plea filed by Mumbai-based activist Manoranjan S Roy. The report claimed that Rs 745.59 crore of demonetised notes had been deposited in the bank – the highest deposit among district cooperative banks. Several news publications took down the article hours after publishing it.
The deposits were allegedly made between November 8, 2016, when demonetisation was announced, and November 14. From the following day, the Reserve Bank of India prohibited district cooperative banks from collecting and exchanging the banned notes to stop money launderers from misusing the banks.