Jay Amit Shah controversy: Criminal defamation case and top 10 developments

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Wedding reception of BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay and Rishita (File Photo)
The political storm around a controversy involving Jay Amit Shah, son of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah, continued on Tuesday, with the Opposition Congress demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the matter. The Congress also gunned for Shah senior's resignation from his party post, even as his son filed a criminal defamation case against news website The Wire in an Ahmedabad court the previous day.

The controversy, which has hit the Narendra Modi-led government and the BJP, had started after the news website reported that a company run by Jay Amit Shah recorded a 16,000-fold increase in its turnover in a year after Modi became the prime minister and his father the BJP president. The report, written by Rohini Singh, detailed the growth of Jay Shah's company, Temple Enterprise Private Ltd, from a revenue of Rs 50,000 in 2014-15 to Rs 80.5 crore in 2015-16. 

The controversy seems to have erupted at a politically significant moment, with the Gujarat Assembly election barely 60 days away, and the winter session of Parliament scheduled to start in the first half of November.

Here are the top 10 developments in the case so far:

1) Shah junior files criminal defamation case: Jay Shah on Monday filed a criminal defamation case at a court in Ahmedabad against news website The Wire

(Read our full report on Jay Shah's criminal defamation case)

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate S K Gadhvi ordered a court inquiry on Jay’s complaint under the Criminal Procedure Code section 202 (to inquire into the case to decide whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding). In his application, Jay prayed for "criminal action against the respondents for defaming and tarnishing the reputation of the complainant through an article, which is scandalous, frivolous, misleading, derogatory, libellous and consisting of several defamatory statements". The case has been filed under Indian Penal Code sections 500 (defamation), 109 (abetment), 39 (to voluntarily cause grievous hurt) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).

The next hearing for a court inquiry will be on Wednesday when two witnesses from Jay's side, who had first informed him about the publication of the article, are likely to depose. The seven respondents in the case are the author of the report, founding editors of the news website and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit company that publishes The Wire.

2) Jay yet to file Rs 100-crore civil defamation suit: Jay is yet to file a civil defamation suit against the respondents. He had on Sunday said he would also file a Rs 100-crore civil defamation suit. In New Delhi, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the civil defamation suit would be filed in due course. (Read more here)

Amit Jay Shah's full statement on The Wire article


3) Congress asks if Jay knew about the note ban: Launching an attack on Jay Shah over his business dealings, Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Monday sought to know if he was aware of the demonetisation decision of the Centre beforehand. The former Maharashtra chief minister also demanded the resignation of Amit Shah over the controversy surrounding his businessman son. 

(Did Jay Shah know about note ban beforehand?)

"This is nothing but crony capitalism by the BJP. Why did Jay Shah close down his company a day before demonetisation was announced? Was he aware of what was going to happen in advance?" Chavan sought to know while speaking to reporters in Mumbai. "BJP chief Amit Shah should immediately resign," the former Union minister added. 

4) Rahul Gandhi takes aim at PM Modi: On a tour of Gujarat, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday targeted Prime Minister Modi over the Jay Shah controversy. "Where has the chowkidar (watchman) gone," Gandhi asked, apparently referring to Modi's earlier statement that he does not want to behave like a prime minister but a 'chowkidar' (watchman) of the country's wealth. The Congress vice-president, who began the second leg of his campaign tour in the poll-bound home state of Modi, raked up the issue to target the prime minister and Amit Shah at about 10 small and big public meetings that he addressed throughout the day. He also cajoled the media to ask questions without fearing Modi and Shah. (Read more here)


मोदीजी, जय शाह- 'जादा' खा गया|

आप चौकीदार थे या भागीदार? कुछ तो बोलिए

— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 9, 2017

5) Congress demands SC-monitored probe and Amit Shah's resignation: The Congress on Monday demanded a probe monitored by the Supreme Court into the media report that claimed that a company owned by Jay Shah saw a huge rise in its turnover after the party came to power at the Centre in 2014.

"Either Amit Shah should immediately step down from his post or he should be relieved from the charge as the party president, so that allegations of irregularities levelled against his son Jay Shah's company could be probed independently," AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera said in a press conference at Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He further suggested that a commission comprising two sitting judges of the apex court be set up for an independent and credible probe into the matter. 

"Modiji had said 'na khaunga, na khane dunga'(will not engage in corruption myself, nor allow others), but now the question is being raised over his party president's son. It is the right of the country's people to know the truth behind what was claimed in the media report regarding his (Jay's) company," Khera said.

6) After Goyal, BJP fields Irani to defend Shah: The BJP on Monday hit back at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi after he targeted party chief Amit Shah over allegation related to his son's business and described it as the party's attempt to divert attention from their own scams and misdeeds. (Read more here)

"Their recent aggression against Jay Shah are clearly off track. Jay Shah's business is perfectly legitimate and legal. TDS is paid, loans are repaid and company closed after losses. Does this reek of cronyism," Union Minister Smriti Irani said in a statement, a day after her ministerial colleague Piyush Goyal defended the junior Shah. She said that instead of seeking answers on Rs 80 crore of transactions that are within the purview of the law, it would be more prudent for the Congress to give an account for the more than 80 scams and the Rs 1,80,000 crore that India has lost due to corruption and cronyism of successive Congress governments.

7) ASG to defend Jay Shah: Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent Jay Amit Shah in the criminal defamation case he has filed against news portal The Wire. (Read more here)

Union minister Piyush Goyal said Mehta had sought Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's permission to appear for Jay and the approval was granted.

Asked about the Congress' attack on the BJP over the claim that the government was in the know of the entire episode as the ASG was given permission even before the story appeared, Goyal said they were aware of the matter as the news portal had sent Jay a questionnaire. "We believe that he (Jay) has been wronged and he must get justice. There is no harm if the best of lawyers appear for him. An ASG can appear in a matter between two private parties after taking permission," he told reporters. 

8) Yechury digs up Advani: Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet: "Serious corruption charges against BJP President's son need investigation. BJP Presidents eg Advani, Laxman had resigned on lesser charges." Yechury also lashed out at the government for defending Shah's son by sending out a minister to field the questions, adding that the Centre had cleared the additional solicitor general to defend Shah's son. (Read more here)

Serious corruption charges against BJP President's son need investigation. BJP Presidents eg Advani, Laxman had resigned on lesser charges. pic.twitter.com/dTXaUftM8P

— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 8, 2017

First they trot out a Minister whose Ministry gave the loan to this "private citizen". Now the ASG will defend him. Any more proof required? pic.twitter.com/3rwXrOPGDi

— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 9, 2017

9) TMC brings in ED, CBI: The Trinamool Congress on Sunday took a swipe at the BJP over the matter, wondering if it would now use the CBI or the ED to probe the allegations against BJP chief Amit Shah's son, just as it has been quick to use these agencies against other political parties. "BJP ever so quick to use CBI/ED against other political parties. Why not now when it comes to one of their own; son of their party president? Media now needs to be fearless," Derek O'Brien, TMC Parliamentary Party leader in the Rajya Sabha, said in a statement. (Read more here)  

10) The report's allegations: The website, 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, which seemed to draw a parallel of the current case with that of the alleged land deals by Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, said the revenue of the company owned by Jay jumped from a meagre Rs 50,000 to over Rs 80 crore in a single year. The report also flagged how Jay’s company, whose business is primarily stock trading, turned to generating wind power with a loan from a public sector enterprise. The news website’s report alleged Jay’s company, Temple Enterprises Private Limited, was engaged in negligible activity in financial years ended March 2013 and 2014, recording losses of Rs 6,230 and Rs 1,724, respectively. It alleged the revenues of the company witnessed an “astonishing surge” in the financial year ended March 2015, when the firm received an unsecured loan of Rs 15.78 crore from a financial services firm owned by Rajesh Khandawala, the samdhi (in-law) of Parimal Nathwani, a Rajya Sabha member and top executive of Reliance Industries. It said the revenue of Rs 50,000 increased to over Rs 80 crore in a single year. It said Jay’s company suddenly stopped its business activities in October 2016.

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