Amit Shah's son Jay threatens Rs100 cr suit over article alleging undue profits
09 October 2017
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Narendra Modi government were battling a storm after a news website reported that Temple Enterprises, a company run by party president Amit Shah's son Jay Amit Shah, recorded a 16,000-fold increase in turnover in only one year after Modi became the Prime Minister and Amit Shah the party chief.
In a statement released by the BJP on Sunday evening, Jay Shah said he would file civil and criminal defamation cases against The Wire's owners, its editor, and the author of the article, and sue them for Rs100 crore in damages.
The author of the article, Rohini Singh is an investigative reporter who in 2011 broke the story of Robert Vadra's business dealings with DLF.
Jay Shah said he would file the case in Ahmedabad, where his business is located.
While the BJP rubbished the allegations, Jay Shah issued a statement saying it had made "false, derogatory and defamatory imputations" against him.
The controversy comes at when the Gujarat Assembly election is barely 60 days away, and the winter session of parliament is scheduled to start in the first half of November.
The Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and the Aam Admi Party on Sunday sought an inquiry into allegations against Jay and his company.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "We finally found the only beneficiary of Demonetisation. It's not the RBI, the poor or the farmers. It's the Shah-in-Shah of Demo. Jai Amit."
Meanwhile, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta has said he may represent Jay Shah in the matter. "I have taken permission from the law ministry on 6 October on this issue. I am being consulted in this case. I may even appear in the case in court," Mehta told NDTV.
If a government lawyer wishes to take up a private case, he has to take permission of the law ministry.
Jay Shah, In a press statement issued hours after The Wire released the story, said, "The article makes false, derogatory and defamatory imputation against me by creating in the minds of right-thinking people an impression that my business owes its 'success' to my father Shri Amitbhai Shah's political position."
Shah said his businesses were completely transparent and conducted legally, which was indicated by the tax compliances. Shah stated that his lawyer had given details of all his legitimate transactions to the website since he "had nothing to hide".
His statement said, "Since the website has proceeded in making an absolutely false imputation in a highly slanted article thereby damaging my reputation, I have decided to prosecute the Author, Editor/(s) and the Owner/(s) of the aforesaid news website for criminal defamation and sue them for an amount of Rs100 crores. Both the actions will be filed at Ahmedabad where I stay, carry on my business and where the cause of action has arisen."
Goyal to the rescue
The government roped in railway minister Piyush Goyal to douse the fire as opposition parties picked up on the article. Goyal told the media that the title of the report was "mischievous" and used the the figure "16,000 times" to sensationalise the issue.
"Jay Shah carries out a fully legitimate and lawful business on commercial lines which are reflected in income tax returns and transactions in banks," Goyal said.
The Congress immediately questioned why a government minister had been sent in to defend allegations against a private businessman.
On Sunday, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said at a press conference that Temple Enterprises had recorded losses in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 of Rs6,230 and Rs1,724, respectively, but showed a profit of about Rs18,000 in 2014-15. The following year (2015-16), its turnover jumped to a whopping Rs80 crore, he said.
The change in fortunes of the company came after it received an unsecured loan of Rs15.78 crore from KIFS Financial Services owned by a relative of a BJP Rajya Sabha member, Sibal claimed.
The Congress leader also alleged that Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, a public sector enterprise under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, had given a loan of Rs10. 25 crore to Kusum Finserv, a limited liability partnership, in which Jay Shah had a 60 per cent stake, even though this company had no prior experience of operating in the power sector.
The Wire said its findings were based on filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). The report, The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah, was published on Sunday morning.
The report said the revenue of Temple Enterprises jumped from Rs50,000 to over Rs80 crore in a single year.
The report also spoke of Jay's company, whose business is primarily stock trading, turning to generating wind power with a loan from a public sector enterprise, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).