Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB) and its chairman Ajay Patel on Monday filed two separate criminal defamation cases against Congress president Rahul Gandhi and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala for their remarks on the bank in connection to an RTI filed on demonetisation.
Addressing a press conference on June 22, Surjewala had claimed, quoting an RTI reply, that the bank had exchanged
Rs 745.58 crore banned notes in just five days after demonetisation was announced in 2016.
He had also claimed that Ajay Patel, chairman of ADCB, is a “close associate of BJP president Amit Shah who is a director and former chairman of the bank”.
Surjewala had demanded a probe into these deposits and alleged that the RTI reply has “exposed an attempt to convert black money into white money in the guise of demonetisation”.
The same day Congress chief Rahul Gandhi posted on Twitter: “Congratulations Amit Shah ji, Director, Ahmedabad Dist Cooperative Bank, on your bank winning 1st prize in the conversion of old notes to new race. 750 Cr in 5 days! Millions of Indian whose lives were destroyed by Demonetisation, salute your achievement.”
The tweet had attached a picture of Shah which said, “THE DIRECTOR of the bank that collected the highest number of demonetised notes… The PRESIDENT of the party that got 80% richer after demonetisation.”
The following day, on June 23, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development clarified that the average deposit amount in the ADCB was Rs 46,795 per account holder, which is lower than the average per depositor in 18 DCBs of Gujarat.
The cases of criminal defamation were filed in the metropolitan magisterial court, which ordered for an inquiry under section 202 of Criminal Procedure Code and adjourned the hearing till September 17.
Appearing for the ADC and Patel, senior lawyer S V Raju said that on June 22 Surjewala had held a press conference in which he had made “false and baseless allegation which are defamatory per se that in five days Rs 745 crore was exchanged and that it is a big national scam.”
Raju said that Surjewala even tweeted about his “false claim that all are scamsters.” Raju said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi also tweeted “(with the hashtag) ShahZyadaKhaGaya… that in five days Rs 745 crore was exchanged during demonetisation and that the party (BJP) became richer by 80 per cent. But not a single penny has gone anywhere from the bank. Such statements are liable for criminal defamation.”