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Hitting back at allegations that he owned a ‘benami’ (held by proxy) flat in the controversial Adarsh Housing Society here, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari Thursday filed a defamation suit against Congress spokesman Manish Tewari .

Gadkari in his complaint lodged before the Esplanade Metropolitan Court charged Tewari with making “false, baseless, reckless and malicious imputations” against him.

He has invoked Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500 in his complaint which pertain to defamation and defamatory utterances.

In November, Tewari alleged that the BJP chief was also an owner of a flat ‘by proxy’ in the 31-storeyed Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society in the posh Colaba area of south Mumbai.

Tewari claimed that the flat allegedly owned by Gadkari was in the name of the driver of BJP leader and businessman Ajay Sancheti. The Congress spokesman also demanded to know how a driver earning Rs.8,000 a month could afford a flat worth Rs.60 lakh.

Stoutly denying the allegations, Gadkari also slapped a legal notice on Tewari Nov 11, seeking an unconditional apology within 72 hours from the Congress leader.

“Tewari neither tendered an apology nor responded to the legal notice I served on him. Therefore, I decided to file a case of criminal defamation for tarnishing my reputation,” Gadkari said in his plea.

The court has posted the matter for hearing Dec 24, an aide to Gadkari said.

The Adarsh Society has been in the eye of a storm after the names of several leaders across political parties and top state bureaucrats tumbled out as members of the society.

The political leaders and bureaucrats have been under a cloud for allegedly showing favours by clearing the files of the society, situated on the edge of the Indian Navy’s base in Colaba.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, saying that the land on which the Adarsh Society has come up belonged to the state government, Wednesday announced a two-member judicial probe into the alleged irregularities committed by the society.

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