Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's son Kartikey filed a criminal defamation suit Tuesday against Rahul Gandhi in a local court, accusing the Congress leader of intentionally making a false allegation about his name being in Panama Papers of alleged tax evaders.
Gandhi, who had made these comments during an election rally in Jhabua on Monday, sought to clarify his remarks saying he had got "confused" and the Madhya Pradesh chief minister's son had no link to the Panama Papers case.
In the suit filed in the Special Court of Additional District Judge (ADJ) Suresh Singh through his lawyer Shirish Shrivastava, Kartikey Chouhan has alleged that Gandhi intentionally gave the statement to defame him.
The criminal defamation case was filed under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Under these sections, a person guilty of criminal defamation can be sent to jail for two years.
The court has posted the matter for November 3 when Kartikey's statement will be recorded.
The Panama papers refer to 11.5 million leaked documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2016 with details of offshore entities set up by a Panama-based legal firm. The list included several Indian individuals and entities, many of whom are facing investigation.
Addressing a rally in Jhabua district of poll-bound Madhya Pradesh on Monday, Gandhi had alleged the name of the son of 'mamaji' had figured in the Panama Papers but no action was taken against him. Chief Minister Chouhan is often referred to as 'mamaji', though Gandhi did not specifically name him.
Hours after Gandhi's allegations, Kartikey Chouhan had rejected the allegations.
"Rahul Gandhi has made a false allegation of my involvement in Panama Papers. I am aggrieved as the image of mine and my family were damaged in a childish manner," he had said, while warning of "strict legal action" if the Congress leader did not apologise within 48 hours.
Kartikey's counsel said Gandhi's statement was intended to defame Chouhan and his family as the Congress has failed to make a dent in the popularity of the chief minister.
"Now they are levelling allegations against his family and children. It was a clear cut intention. It was a well-planned statement," Shrivastava said.
Speaking to a select group of journalists in Indore, Rahul sought to clarify his remarks and said, "For campaigning I am touring Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan these days. The ruling BJP has indulged in so many scams and corruption that yesterday, I got confused."
"In Panama Paper leak case, Madhya Pradesh chief minister has no role," Gandhi said, but alleged that the BJP chief minister had a role in scams like Vyapam and e-tendering, among others.
The Vyapam scam refers to massive irregularities in state government jobs recruitment and selection in medical courses done by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board.
The main Opposition party has also been alleging large-scale corruption through e-tendering in Madhya Pradesh. It has claimed massive irregularities in grant of state government procurement and other works through a website developed by two private IT companies.
The ruling party has denied these allegations.