The Delhi High Court on Friday summoned three Congress leaders on August 18 in response to Rs 2-crore defamation suit filed by Union Women and Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani on their alleged claim that her 18-year-old daughter Zoish Irani was running an illegal bar in the name of Silly Souls in Goa.
A single-judge Bench of Justice Mini Pushkarna also asked Congress general secretary and chief spokesman Jairam Ramesh, media chairman Pawan Khera and Mahila Congress President Netta D'souza to delete within 24 hours their tweets, videos and re-tweets accusing Zoish of running the illegal bar in Goa. If these leaders fail to remove the tweets in the next 24 hours, Twitter will remove them, the order said.
The three had alleged that Zoish had acquired a liquor bar licences using the name of a deceased person from Mumbai and demanded that Smriti Irani be sacked as the minister for promoting the illegal bar and restaurant which also sells beef and pork dishes.
The court case came up just when the Excise Commissioner of Goa had summoned the owners of the bar and restaurant on a complaint lodged by a local lawyer.
Irani had sent a legal notice to the three Congress leaders, demanding their unconditional apology.
In her brief order, Justice Pushkarna said: "I am of the prima facie view that slanderous allegations were made against the plaintiff (Smriti Irani) without verifying actual facts," which caused grave injury to her reputation.
In a tweet, Jairam Ramesh said: "The Delhi High Court has issued a notice asking us to formally reply to the case filed by Smriti Irani. We look forward to presenting the facts before the court. We will challenge and disprove the spin being put on the matter by Ms Irani."
When the three Congress leaders levelled charges against Irani, she, as well as her daughter Zoish, had issued denials. Smriti had said her daughter is studying in Goa and not engaged in any business, while Zoish asserted through a lawyer in Goa that the charges were "baseless" as she was neither an owner nor operating the bar-cum-restaurant.
In retaliation, Congress workers shared the video clips from food critic Kunal Vijayakar's "Khane mein Kya Hai," who savoured the dishes which Zoish hailed as pork and beef items.
On Irani's denial of her daughter running any cafe or bar, the Congress pulled out a newspaper article of April 14 which says "the cabinet minister is a proud mother pouring praises on her daughter's restaurant."
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