Ahmedabad: Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party spokesperson RS Surjewala have been slapped with a defamation case by a cooperative bank here. The Ahmedabad District Co-operative (ADC) bank and its chairman Ajay Patel filed separate criminal defamation cases in a metro court on Monday, said The Indian Express, taking umbrage to Congress leaders’ remarks on the bank in connection with an RTI filed on demonetisation. (Also read: No RSS Invite For Rahul Gandhi: Cong)

Petitioner’s counsel Ajit Jadega said, “Surjewala had earlier, in a press conference, stated that during demonetisation, the bank had converted Rs 745 crore worth of old currency for new.”  He added, “The court prima facie found substance in our complaint and accepted it. Further hearing will be held on September 17.” He said Surjewala made allegations without verifying facts. “The bank didn’t even have 7% of the amount he claimed…It affects the new account holders who may want to bank with us,” said Jadeja. (Also read: RSS Hits Back at Rahul For ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ Remark)

At the press conference in June, Surjewala had alleged that the bank exchanged junked notes worth Rs 745.58 crore in five days after demonetisation. He claimed that ADCB chairman Patel was a “close associate of BJP president Amit Shah who is a director and former chairman of the bank”. He had sought a probe and alleged that the RTI reply had “exposed an attempt to convert black money into white money in the guise of demonetisation”.

Counsel for ADCB and Patel SV Raju said Surjewala made “false and baseless” charges. He said Rahul tweeted “ShahZyadaKhaGaya …that the party (BJP) became richer by 80 per cent. But not a single penny has gone anywhere from the bank.” “The tweet was brought to the notice of the bank’s chairman by some depositors who raised concerns that it would affect the reputation of the bank,” he said. The bank plans to use video recordings of the press conference and transcripts as evidence. The cases were filed in metropolitan magisterial court, which ordered an inquiry under CrPC and adjourned the hearing till September 17.