The Delhi High Court on Monday observed that no bar licence was ever issued in favour of Smriti Irani or her daughter, while dealing with a civil defamation suit filed by Union minister Irani against Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera and Netta D’Souza, who alleged that the former was running an ‘illegal’ bar in BJP-ruled Goa.
Justice Mini Pushkarna said the court perused various documents on record issued by the government of Goa and the office of Commissioner of Excise, which have been addressed to one Anthony Dgama, and not to Irani or her family members.
“Considering the documents on record, it is clearly seen that there was no licence which was ever issued in favour of the plaintiff or her daughter. The plaintiff or her daughter are not the owners of the restaurant. It has also been established by the plaintiff prima facie that the plaintiff or her daughter never applied for licence.
“Neither the restaurant nor the land on which the restaurant exists is owned by the plaintiff or her daughter. Even the show-cause notice issued by the government of Goa is not in the name of the plaintiff or her daughter. All these facts have also been affirmed in the affidavit submitted by the plaintiff,” the court observed.
Justice Pushkarna further said: “I am of prima facie view that slanderous and libellous allegations have been levelled against the plaintiff without verifying the actual facts. Great injury has been caused to the reputation of the plaintiff and her family in view of the various tweets and re-tweets which followed the press conference held by defendant No. 1, 2 and 3 (Ramesh, Khera, D’Souza).”
“Since the plaintiff commands an esteemed position as a minister in the Government of India and considering the nature of her public office, there is immense public glare and scrutiny of any information about the plaintiff in public domain.
“Defendant No. 1 to 3 (Congress leaders) have conspired with each other and other individuals and organisations to launch a tirade of false, scathing and belligerent personal attack on the plaintiff and her daughter with a common motive to malign, defame and injure the reputation, moral character and public image of the plaintiff and her daughter,” Pushkarna added.
The court also issued summons to the above-mentioned Congress leaders and directed them to remove the tweets related to the allegations levelled against Irani and her daughter.
The case is related to the political controversy surrounding the ‘Silly Souls Cafe and Bar’, allegedly operated by Irani’s daughter Zoish Irani in Goa’s Assagao.
The Congress has alleged that the daughter of Irani was running an illegal bar in BJP-ruled Goa.
While Irani refuted Congress’ allegations, terming them as “malicious” intended to “malign” her and assassinate the character of her 18-year-old student daughter, the Congress urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack her as Union minister.
Prior to her plea in the high court, Irani had served legal notice to the Congress leaders and demanded a written apology, asking them to withdraw the allegations levelled against her daughter with immediate effect.