A Gujarat court on Monday ordered Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the party’s national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala to appear before it in a criminal defamation suit filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairperson Ajay Patel. Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah is a director on the bank’s board.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S K Gadhvi ordered Gandhi and Surjewala to appear before the court on May 27.
The petitioners had moved the court after Gandhi and Surjewala had shared a news report in June 2018 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.
The complainants have alleged that Gandhi and Surjewala issued “false and defamatory allegations” against the bank. The bank, in its petition, refuted the allegations and said that it did not have that much demonetised notes to exchange.
The Congress leaders had made the claims based on a media report about a response given by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to a Right to Information query. The news report was first published by the Indo-Asian News Service claiming 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.
On June 22, 2018, Gandhi had tweeted, “Congratulations Amit Shah ji, Director, Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, on your bank winning 1st prize in the conversion of old notes to new race. Rs 750 crore in 5 days! Millions of Indians whose lives were destroyed by demonetisation, salute your achievement.”