Oblivious to defamation suit, Sanjay Nirupam wants answers from Ambani

Apr 12, 2018, 08:15 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Mumbai Congress president writes to industrialist after deadline for reply elapses, seeks clarity on deal with Adani

Sanjay Nirupam
Sanjay Nirupam

Instead of responding to the Rs 1,000-crore defamation suit filed by the Reliance Group against him last week, Mumbai Congress Committee president Sanjay Nirupam has chosen to write a letter to the company's owner, Anil Ambani. Nirupam said the Ambani-Adani deal will affect 30 lakh suburban consumers, and sought further clarity on it from Ambani. "I am choosing to write to you well past the 72-hour deadline that was mentioned in your company's notice sent to me," said the leader yesterday in a letter, a copy of which was shared with the media.

'Only asked for transparency'
Nirupam said he had merely asked for transparency in the manner the integrated Mumbai power business is being sold to Adani Transmission Limited. "I believe citizens have a right to know the details of a deal that will have a direct impact on their lives. If asking questions on a public forum makes me liable for defamation, every public figure asking questions about deals that involve an essential commodity, like power, should be held liable as well," he said.

On April 4, Reliance Group had served a defamation notice of Rs 1,000-crore to Nirupam. It wanted the leader to immediately apologise for and withdraw the statements made within 72 hours of the receipt of the notice, and desist from making any such statements concerning the Reliance Group without first ascertaining the facts.

After serving a notice through its lawyers on Wednesday, the Anil Ambani-led corporate said it would also move a contempt petition against Nirupam before the Bombay High Court for making false and baseless allegations, despite the court having restrained him from making such defamatory statements in a suit filed by Reliance Infrastructure in 2014.

'An inflated deal'
The leader reiterated that a document he possessed, a detailed audit of RInfra's integrated Mumbai power business that pegged its valuation at Rs 5,575 crore was authentic. "The same document was also presented in court in relation to another case. Even if you are suggesting that there is an enterprise valuation, I find it hard to believe that it would be thrice the amount the earlier valuation suggests. So, the amount of Rs 18,800 crore that Adani Transmission is willing to pay you to buy out your integrated Mumbai power business seems clearly inflated," wrote Nirupam.

He said an inflated deal will result in the new owner passing the difference on to city power consumers. "The eventuality seems to be that Adani Transmission will ask MERC to allow it to increase power tariffs and that is my biggest fear. The deal might help you become debt-free to a certain degree, but it can't be at the cost of Mumbaikars. I thereby suggest that for sake of transparency the details of this deal be made available to the court so there is no ambiguity whatsoever," Nirupam said.

Clarifying his stand on allegations that the sale of its Mumbai power business would help Ambani launder the kickback his defence arm received in the Rafale deal, Nirupam said it was hard to understand why he would be charged with making false and defamatory statements.

'Place Rafale deal before court'
"The Rafale deal for which your company won the contract has raised far too many questions and suspicions because the government has not disclosed the cost of each aircraft. It is being done in unprecedented secrecy whereas the French manufacturer in its annual report has mentioned the amount which is almost thrice of what India should be paying for these aircrafts. Each aircraft is costing us three times the amount it should. I would like to reiterate my demand: why don't you place the details of the Rafale deal before the court in a transparent manner and that can perhaps stop my questions," Nirupam wrote. Nirupam said since Reliance chose the media to publicise the defamation suit, he too has opted for an open forum to inform them of his stand. "A legal reply will come soon from my team of lawyers," he told Ambani.

Rs 1,000 cr
Worth of the defamation suit filed against Nirupam by Reliance Group

Also read: Sanjay Nirupam drags Prime Minister's office into power deal between Reliance, Adani

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