New reports found a connection between the Silly Souls Cafe and Smriti Irani's husband Zubin Irani.
Amid a political feud between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani over the ownership of a Goa bar, the Delhi High Court has said that prima facie evidence shows that neither Irani nor her daughter Zoish owns the land on which the Silly Souls Cafe stands.
The political row was triggered when a lawyer, Aires Rodrigues, said that he found through an RTI that the restaurant and bar had renewed their liquor licence by providing documents to authorities of a deceased person named Anthony Dgama. Dgama is said to have died in 2021, but the liquor licence application for Silly Souls Bar was made in June 2022.
Congress leaders Pawan Khera, Jairam Ramesh and Netta D'souza were also asked by the court to delete tweets which it held were defamatory. This comes after Irani filed a defamation case against the Congress leaders alleging that what they claimed was malicious and hurt her reputation. The Congress had held a press conference in which Khera claimed to have documents (a show cause notice to the restaurant). The Congress claimed that it was Irani's daughter Zoish who owned the restaurant.
Also read: The Controversy Over A Goa Bar That Smriti Irani Says Daughter Doesn't Run
What the court said
The Delhi High Court in its order said that "it is clearly seen that there was no license which was ever issued in favour of" Irani or her daughter and neither of them are the owners of the restaurant. It also held that neither Irani nor her daughter owned the land of which the restaurant stands and the show cause notice was not addressed to them.
"Balance of convenience also lies in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendants. I am satisfied that if the defamatory allegations and contents linked to it, is allowed to remain on the internet and social media platforms, then the extent of damage to the plaintiff could be of immense magnitude and injurious to the reputation of the plaintiff and her family," Justice Mini Pushkarna observed.
What Irani's petition said
In her plea to the court, Irani said that she and her daughter were not running a restaurant in Goa and they had never applied for a liquor license and that they had not been served a show cause notice regarding the same.
The application called the allegations made by the Congress leaders "false, bogus, incriminating, mischievous and malicious and evidently published on multiple platforms, only to garner highest amount of viewership, thereby intentionally subjecting the Applicant (Smriti Irani) to greater public ridicule."
Also read: Take Down Social Media Posts on Zoish Irani: Delhi HC to Congress Leaders
Zubin Irani's connection with cafe
Even as the Delhi High Court asked the Congress leaders to delete their tweets of allegations against the Union minister, several media reports have found a connection between Silly Souls Cafe and the Irani family.
A report in Newslaundry said that documents submitted to Maharashtra's registrar of companies show that Eightall Foods and Beverages, an LLP that shares the same Goa address as Silly Souls Cafe, has two directors who are also directors in companies linked to Smriti Irani's husband Zubin Irani.
A look at Zubin Irani's Instagram account reveals that he says he is the co-founder of the Silly Souls Cafe, along with other places.
Smriti Irani's son Zohr and her daughter Zoish also seem to be connected to the cafe through financial transactions. The Indian Express found that Zohr, Zoish, Zubin and his daughter Shanelle hold shares in two companies Ugraya Mercantile Pvt Ltd and Ugraya Agro Farms Pvt Ltd. Both these companies have investments in Eightall Food and Beverages LLP which was set up in 2020. The above two companies own 75% of Eightall Foods.
The report said that documents from March 2021 show that both Ugraya Mercantile Pvt Ltd and Ugraya Agro Farms Pvt have the same shareholders and the same percentage of holdings. Zubin Irani has 67 per cent, Zoish and Zohr own 11 per cent each and Shannelle also owns 11 per cent.
Not only that. In a YouTube video published by food blogger and actor Kunal Vijaykar dated April 16, 2022, Zoish Irani gives him details about setting up the restaurant and sits with him throughout as he tastes the food. Vijaykar calls her a young entrepreneur and the owner of the restaurant.
A report published by Money Control shows that when Vijaykar wrote a post praising the restaurant and Zoish, Irani shared it as an Instagram story tagging Zoish and the restaurant and saying, "So proud".
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