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Rafale row: Anil Ambani's Reliance Group withdraws defamation suits against Congress, National Herald

BusinessToday.In     May 21, 2019

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has decided to withdraw its defamation suits against Congress and National Herald newspaper over their comments and an article on the Rafale jet deal. In a statement, the company reiterated that the allegations against it regarding the Rafale jet deal were made for political gains in the recently concluded 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

"We believe that the defamatory statements by cerain 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 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 individuals and corporate bodies," a Reliance Group spokesperson told BusinessToday.In.

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PS Champaneri, who is representing National Herald and some other defendants in the case, confirmed that he was told by Reliance Group's lawyer about the company's decision to withdraw the defamation suits against them. The formal process to withdraw the lawsuits will be taken up in the court when it resumes after the summer vacation.

Reliance Defence, Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Aerostructure, subsidiaries of the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Group, had earlier filed civil defamation suits against Congress leaders including Sunil Jakhar, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Oommen Chandy, Ashok Chavan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sanjay Nirupam and Shaktisinh Gohil. The defamation suits were also filed against news organisations like the National Herald, its editor Zafar Agha, and Vishwadeepak, the author of a news article published by the daily.

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The Rs 5,000-crore defamation suits were being heard in Ahmedabad civil and sessions court. Before going for summer vacation, the bench of Judge PJ Tamakuwala 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.

Meanwhile, the defamation suit filed against the National Herald pertained to an article published by it, titled 'Anil Ambani floated Reliance Defence 10 days before Modi announced Rafale deal'. The petition by the defendants argued that the article "misleads the general public to believe that undue business favours are being extended to them by the government of the day".

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It conveys a "negative image" and "adversely affects the public perception" of Reliance Group and its Chairman Ambani, the petition read. It has caused "considerable damage" to the reputation and goodwill of plaintiff firms, it said, seeking compensation to the tune Rs 5,000 crore.

(With PTI inputs)

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