Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Monday issued a notice to Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi in a Rs 5,000 crore defamation suit filed by Anil Ambani-led Reliance Naval and Engineering Limited.

Justice Paresh Upadhyay sought a reply to the notice by 27 December.

The Reliance Group firm filed the defamation suit against the Congress spokesperson for making "false and defamatory statements" about the Rafale fighter jet deal.

The group has maintained that the joint venture between Reliance Aerostructure Ltd and Dassault Aviation was a bilateral agreement between two private companies and had nothing to do with the government.

The company took objection to Singhvi's comment that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was "fooling" people with his statement that no loans of big defaulters have been waived, and claimed that the government had written off Rs 1.88 lakh crore debt of those who had wilfully defaulted.

"We all know that top 50 corporates owe Rs 8.35 lakh crore to banks, and out of those, three top Gujarat-based companies -- Reliance (Anil Ambani Group), Adani and Essar --owe Rs 3 lakh crore. One of them had last month publicly declared that they are shutting their telecom business with a liability of Rs 45,000 crore due to banks. We would like to ask Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that far from declaring it as NPAs, you are trying to help the defaulter with further defence contracts like the Rafale deal. Why?" Singhvi, also a senior lawyer, said.