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TNN | Apr 17, 2014, 06.24 AM IST



NEW DELHI: The authors and distributors of the book “Gas Wars – Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis” have been served legal notices on behalf of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and its chairman Mukesh Ambani. The notices accuse Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, the lead author, and co-authors Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri of defaming RIL and its chairman.

The book, formally released on Tuesday, deals with the alleged irregularities in determining the pricing of natural gas in India, an issue that grabbed headlines after Arvind Kejriwal highlighted it in January this year.

The notices, sent by legal services firm Khaitan & Co also accuse the e-distributors of the book, Authors Upfront and Feel Books Pvt Ltd as well as Flipkart and Amazon of being party to a “common conspiracy” to “ensure the defamation of our clients for personal gains”. Also included among those served notice is Deepshikha Shankar, event manager for the Foundation of Media Professionals, who had in her personal capacity forwarded the e-invite for the book release function to several people.

The notices demand not only that further sales of the book – which they continuously refer to as a “pamphlet” – be stopped, but that all existing copies in any form be destroyed. They also demand an “unconditional public apology” and threaten “civil and/or criminal proceedings” if the demands are not met.

Asked for his comment, lead author Guha Thakurta said the book “has been more than fair” to RIL and Ambani by quoting their version of events at “great length and depth” including detailed interviews with senior RIL personnel like B K Ganguly. He added that the authors were exercising their fundamental right to free expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The notice “is like an act of intimidation and harassment”, he said while adding that an appropriate response would be provided as per the legal process.

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