Mukesh Ambani-led RIL has served legal notice to Moneylife for allegedly lowering the prestige of Reliance Industries among the conglomerate's friends and well-wishers
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has served a legal notice on Debashis Basu, editor and publisher of Moneylife, Moneywise Media Pvt Ltd and Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of Moneylife, for publishing articles "Congress gift to Reliance: RIL sole beneficiary of anti-dumping duty on PTA" () and "Ambani ki dukaan?"
The notice, sent by legal services firm Khaitan & Co also accuse Moneylife of "lowering the prestige of RIL among the conglomerate's friends and well-wishers".
The notice, while referring Ms Dalal, the managing editor of Moneylife as 'reporter', accuses her of "validating highly objectionable parts from the book "Gas Wars - Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis" in her article 'Ambani ki dukaan?'. Interestingly, the notice referes to the book as 'Pamphlet' at all places, including notices sent to the writers and publishers of the book.
"...you have entered into a deliberate attempt to slander our client's name and reputation by publicizing a highly-objectionable Pamphlet titled "Gas Wars - Crony Capitalism and the Ambani's dukan" by one Paranjoy Guha Thakurta alongwith Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri written, published and distributed with the explicit purpose of making slanderous and baseless allegations against our client (Pamphlet) by validating its highly-objectionable parts in your piece 'Ambani ki dukaan?' on 14 April 2014 at 4.01pm and repeated the injury to our client in the 1 May 2014 edition of Moneylife on pages 16 and 17. In this article you have mixed the wholly unrelated issue of PTA described in para 1-15 of this legal notice with the machinations and the slander inherent in the said Pamphlet. Our clients reserve the right to include for colluding with the said authors of the Pamphlet for the same as the distributor of their canards," the notice from Khaitan & Co says.
Last week, the same lawyer firm issued notices to the authors and distributors of the book "Gas Wars - Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis". The notices also accuse e-distributors of the book, Authors Upfront and Feel Books Pvt Ltd as well as Flipkart and Amazon of being party to a "common conspiracy" to "ensure the defamation of our clients for personal gains". Also included among those served notice is Deepshikha Shankar, event manager for the Foundation of Media Professionals, who had in her personal capacity forwarded the e-invite for the book release function to several people, says a report from Times of India.
Over the past two years, Reliance has been the target of attacks by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, but they have never been served any legal notice.
In fact, TV news channels, owned by the RIL group itself broadcast the press conferences of Kejriwal and Bhushan LIVE several times, in which the latter have made serious allegations about Reliance. “I find it quite perplexing. If you felt that you have been defamed by what Prashant Bhushan and I said, then we are the real culprits and, if you had to send a defamation notice, it should have been to us. The TV channels merely broadcast what we said,” Kejriwal was quoted as saying in a English translation of the letter posted on the AAP website. Its not clear whether large media groups like TV18, in which RIL has substantial interest, have also received any such notice, since their TV channels had also carried the press conferences of Kejriwal.
Earlier in February this year, Kejriwal, while speaking at a rally, repeatedly cited two bank account numbers claiming that they belonged to Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil. This was done as part of challenging Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to get black money back from Swiss banks.
However, all the Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate did was issue a press release refuting the allegations made by Kejriwal, blaming it on mythical ‘vested interests’. "It is being reiterated that neither Reliance Industries nor Mr Mukesh Ambani have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world. The continued tirade of baseless allegations being made by AAP against us appears to be instigated by vested interests," the company had said. (Reliance refutes Kejriwal's allegations terming it as 'baseless')
Seperately, EAS Sarma, former secretary of the Government of India (GoI), had demanded an independent investigation into the whole gamut of showering one largesse after another on RIL that would unravel the hidden links in this web of improprieties. (Set up SIT to investigate showering of one largesse after another on RIL, says Sarma )
The former secretary had written several letters to the PM and petroleum ministry on the improprieties committed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in dealing with RIL’s gas project in Krishna Godavari (KG) Basin in Andhra Pradesh.
Last week, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former governor of West Bengal, called Reliance Industries as 'parallel state', which exercised power brazenly over natural and financial resources, says a report from Times of India. Quoting Mr Gandhi, the report says, "We used to talk of black money as a parallel economy and so it continues to be. But Reliance is a parallel State. I do not know of any country where one single firm exercises such power so brazenly, over the natural resources, financial resources, professional resources and, ultimately, over human resources as the company of the Ambanis". The former governor was speaking at the 15th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture that had over 3,000 officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the audience.
From what we know, none of these parties have been served legal notice by Reliance Industries.