Dad Shah shows off libel case

Amit Shah today appeared to project the mere act of filing a defamation case as proof of propriety.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 14.10.17

New Delhi, Oct. 13: Amit Shah today appeared to project the mere act of filing a defamation case as proof of propriety.

"The Congress has faced so many corruption charges since independence. Have they ever filed a criminal defamation or Rs 100 crore civil defamation suit? Why did they not gather the courage to file such cases?" Shah told an event organised by the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak in Ahmedabad.

The BJP president was speaking against the backdrop of a report in a news portal, The Wire, that the turnover of a company owned by his son Jay Amitbhai Shah had risen by 16,000 times in a year.

The portal had not made any specific charges against Jay and had pointed out that "the world over, it is normal for the business affairs of politicians' relatives in democracies to be subjected to public scrutiny...".

Jay has filed a criminal defamation case against The Wire and its senior editors. The case is still at a nascent stage - the first hearing in a lower court was adjourned earlier this week to next Monday as Jay's senior advocate was busy in the high court. What Amit Shah has done is to cite an ongoing case, not one in which the verdict has been pronounced.

Jay had also threatened to file a Rs 100-crore civil defamation suit but it is not clear whether he has done so yet. "They are asking for a probe. Jay has himself asked for a probe (by approaching the court). If you have proof, come to the court," Shah Senior said, stoutly defending his son.

The air can be cleared somewhat if Jay makes public the financial statement, which includes the balance sheet, the profit and loss account and the cash flow statement, that will show the full picture, especially how the turnover zoomed.

"No one has levelled a corruption charge. This company (Jay's Temple Enterprise) has not had any business even worth Re 1 with the government nor taken any government land or contract of even Re 1, not done deals with anyone like in Bofors," Amit Shah said. "Question of corruption does not arise," he added in English.

The father's robust defence stood out against the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has otherwise been active on Twitter this week.

The strong defence from Amit Shah came a day after the RSS favoured a probe if "the charges are prima facie true".

Amit Shah sought to explain the nature of his son's business. "This is purely a commodity trade business in which turnover is big and profits less. If a company's turnover becomes Rs 1 crore, its profit does not become Rs 1 crore.... It is unfair to say there was an over 16,000 times (rise) in profits," he said.

The portal had referred to the turnover (the value of revenues earned), not profits. But some politicians and trolls have been mixing up turnover and profits.

"They talk of Rs 80-crore turnover but do not tell you what happened in the end. After Rs 80-crore turnover, there was a loss of Rs 1.5 crore. Where is money laundering in this? The entire transaction was through cheques. The entire transaction was on paper," Amit Shah added.

The absence of profit alone is not a reliable barometer of whether those associated with a company made unfair gains or not. The nature of the expenditure that led to the loss will be one of the illuminating factors.

For instance, the top management can award itself handsome payouts or milk the expenses account, which may saddle the firm with losses and yet make individuals richer. That is why the financial statement is important.