Reliance to withdraw defamation suits against Congress leaders, National Herald

Anil Ambani

The Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has decided to withdraw the civil defamation suits it had filed against Congress leaders and National Herald newspaper in connection with their statements on the Rafale deal.

A Reliance Group spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday, We believe that the defamatory statements by certain inpiduals 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 concluded on Sunday, 19 May, 2019. Besides, the subject matter is pending for adjudication before the Hon ble Supreme Court. Therefore, the Group has decided to withdraw the defamation suits filed by it against these inpiduals and corporate bodies.

Reliance Group s arms Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Defence and Reliance Aerostructure had filed the suits in the Ahmedabad City Civil and Sessions Court in 2018, demanding Rs 5,000 crore in damages for causing considerable damage to the reputation of the plaintiff firms.

Advocate P S Champaneri, representing the Congress leaders and National Herald, told mediapersons that he had received information regarding the Anil Ambani-led firms intention of withdrawing the suits on Sunday.

Congress members Randeep Surjewala, Sunil Jakhar, Priyanka Chaturvedi (then party spokesperson, now with Shiv Sena), Shaktisinh Gohil, Oomen Chandy, Ashok Chavan and Sanjay Nirupam had been slapped with defamation suits by the three companies with respect to comments made by the respective persons on Rafale deal. Two cases against Associated Journals (National Herald) too had been slapped (with only one being represented by advocate Rasesh Parikh on behalf of Reliance) in this regard. On May 19 afternoon, I received a telephone call from Reliance advocate Rasesh Parikh that he has received instructions to withdraw these suits against these persons (and entities). He has also forwarded mail communication to the respective persons and posted a written letter to the defendants, intimating them about their plan to withdraw such suits, said Champaneri.

The formal process to withdraw the suits will be taken up in the court when it resumes after the summer vacation, Champaneri told PTI.

Before closing for summer vacation, the court was hearing applications moved by the defendants questioning the territorial jurisdiction of the court in Ahmedabad to hear such suits. The complainants said the defendants made libelous and derogatory statements against the Reliance Group and its chairman Anil Ambani pertaining to the Rafale fighter jet deal and his firms. They asked the defendants to cease and desist from levelling allegations against the company in connection with the Rafale deal.

The defamation suit filed against National Herald pertained to an article published by it, titled Anil Ambani floated Reliance Defence 10 days before Modi announced Rafale deal . According to the petition, the article misled …public to believe that undue business favours are being extended to them by the government… (WITH PTI INPUTS)