The Congress has questioned the propriety of a government law officer fighting the case of a private person, terming it "unprecedented" after media reports came that Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta may appear in court for Jay Shah in a defamation suit against a news website.
“ASG Tushar Mehta sought permission from the government to represent a private party, that is, Jay Shah. The permission was granted on October 6, two days before the story in question appeared in ‘The Wire’,” Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma said.
“Never in the past has an Attorney General or a Solicitor General or Additional Solicitor General represented a private party in the court,” he added.
A government law officer like ASG has to take prior permission from the Law Ministry if he/she wants to represent a private party in a case.
The copy of the e-mail sent by Jay Shah’s lawyer Manik Dogra to “The Wire” reporter in response to her questionnaire was shared by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) social media head Amit Malviya on his Twitter handle on Sunday. The mail by Dogra, dated October 7, was forwarded to Mehta as well.
The Wire on Sunday ran a story about two companies owned by Jay Shah, son of BJP chief Amit Shah, which showed that while one of the companies registered a whopping 16,000 times rise in its turnover in a year, the other company got unsecured loans from a cooperative bank, a government agency and an NBFC after it ventured into a new business of renewable power.
Terming the story’s intent as malicious, Jay Shah on Sunday said he would file a criminal and civil defamation suit of Rs 100 crore against the author of the story as well as the editors and owners of the news website that carried the story.
Mehta was quoted by NDTV as saying that he was likely to represent Jay Shah in the matter (defamation case).
“I have taken permission from the Law Ministry on October 6 for this issue. I am being consulted in this case. I may even appear in court (in connection with this case),” Mehta was quoted as saying by NDTV.
“The fact that the permission was given even before the article appeared in the press is interesting,” Sharma said.
The Congress had on Sunday also raised objections to a Union Minister defending a private person when Railway Minister Piyush Goyal called a press conference to defend Jay Shah and announce about the defamation suit against the news website. (IANS)