Ahmedabad: The Reliance Group, led by Anil Ambani, on Tuesday announced its decision to withdraw the Rs 5,000 crore civil defamation suit, filed in a court here, against Congress leaders and the National Herald newspaper over their statements and an article on the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal.
The court of city civil and sessions judge P.J. Tamakuwala is hearing the suits. The complainant’s lawyer, Rasesh Parikh, told reporters: “We have intimated the defendants that we are going to withdraw the suits against them.” Concurring, P.S. Champaneri, the counsel for the National Herald and some other defendants, said the Reliance Group’s counsel informed him that he had received instructions from the group to withdraw the defamation cases.
The formal process to withdraw the suits would begin once the court resumes after the summer vacation, he added. Reliance Defence, Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Aerostructure, which are companies of the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Group, had filed civil defamation cases against Congress leaders Sunil Jakhar, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Oommen Chandy, Ashok Chavan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sanjay Nirupam and Shaktisinh Gohil, and some journalists and news organisations like the National Herald.
The defamation suits were also filed against the National Herald’s editor Zafar Agha, and Vishwa Deepak, the author of a news article published by it. In its defamation suits, the company had stated that the defendants had made libellous and derogatory statements against the Reliance Group and its chairman Anil Ambani over the Rafale fighter jet deal and sought a directive to them to “cease and desist” from levelling such allegations against the Group.
As for the National Herald, it was about an article with the headline “Anil Ambani floated Reliance Defence 10 days before Modi announced Rafale deal”. The company stated that the article “misleads the general public to believe that undue business favours are being extended to them by the government of the day” and that it sent out a “negative image” and “adversely affects the public perception” of Reliance Group and its chairman Ambani. Seeking damages to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore, the company asserted that the article had inflicted “considerable damage” to the reputation and goodwill of the Reliance Group.