Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group has decided to withdraw Rs 5,000 crore civil defamation suits filed against Congress leaders and the National Herald for statements and an article on the Rafale fighter jet deal, PTI reported.
“We believe that the defamatory statements by certain individuals and corporate bodies with regard to the offset agreement between Reliance Group and Dassault Aviation were made for political purposes in the run up to the Lok Sabha election 2019, that have concluded on May 19,” Reliance Group spokesperson Daljeet Singh said in an e-mail to Scroll.in. “Besides, the subject matter is pending for adjudication before the Honourable Supreme Court. Therefore, the Group has decided to withdraw the defamation suits filed by it against these individuals and corporate bodies.”
The Reliance Group’s lawyer Rasekh Parikh told PTI that defendants had been told about this decision. The defamation suits were being heard by civil and sessions judge PJ Tamakuwala in Ahmedabad.
Reliance Defence, Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Aerostructure, which are part of the Reliance Group, had filed civil defamation suits against Congress leaders like Sunil Jakhar, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Oommen Chandy, Ashok Chavan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sanjay Nirupam and Shaktisinh Gohil, a few journalists and news organisations such as the National Herald.
PS Champaneri, who represents the National Herald and some other defendants, said he was told by the Reliance Group’s lawyer that he had received instructions from his client to withdraw the defamation suits against them. Champaneri said the process to withdraw the defamation suits will be taken up in court when it resumes after the summer break.
The Reliance companies had filed two cases against National Herald – one against Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of the newspaper, editor-in-chief Zafar Agha and journalist Vishwa Deepak and the second against Associated Journals Limited, Agha and journalist Bhasha Singh.
The defamation suit against National Herald pertained to an article published by the newspaper titled “Anil Ambani floated Reliance Defence 10 days before Modi announced Rafale deal”. The petition had said that the article mislead the public to believe “undue business favours are being extended to them by the government of the day”.
The defamation suit against the Congress leaders was related to press briefings, public agitations and articles in the media on alleged corruption in the Rafale deal.