Gujarat HC rejects Wire's plea against gag-order over Jay Shah
The Gujarat HC has dismissed The Wire's plea against a gag order by a lower court. BJP president Amit Shah's son, Jay Shah had secured the gag order over a report by The Wire which claimed that Jay's company's turnover rose 16,000 times in one year, after the NDA came to power. What does this order imply? How has the case proceeded? Read on!
What had The Wire alleged?
The Wire alleged that after incurring losses in 2013 and 2014, Jay's enterprise earned a Rs. 18,728 profit on Rs. 50,000 revenue in 2014-15. Subsequently, in 2015-16, it registered a Rs. 80.5cr turnover, i.e., a 16 lakh percent growth. In October'16, it went bust. Moreover, for a windmill in Ratlam, MP, Jay's another firm received a Rs. 25cr loan from Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank.
Subsequently, Jay filed a Rs. 100cr defamation suit
Afterwards, Jay filed a Rs. 100cr criminal defamation suit under section 500 of the IPC. He accused 'The Wire' of insinuating that he was involved in corruption through an article that was "scandalous, misleading, derogatory, libelous and had many defamatory statements." The suit was filed against the article's author Rohini Singh and The Wire's founders Siddharth Varadarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and MK Venu, among others.
Why did the Wire move Gujarat HC?
Meanwhile, an Ahmedabad lower court issued an ex parte injunction preventing the news portal from publishing any content related to Jay. This order was termed ex parte because it was taken at the behest of and for the benefit of only Jay Shah without any notice or contestation right given to the Wire. Thus, the Wire moved Gujarat HC to lift the gag order.
During the proceedings, what did Jay's counsel argue?
During the HC hearing, Jay's counsel argued that people have a "certain perception" about Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son Robert Vadra. He said if Jay is "placed in the company of crooks, it amounts to defamation." He later clarified "I am not saying Vadra is a crook." He mentioned this when Wire's counsel said the Jay Shah article's reporter had earlier exposed Vadra's land-dealings.
How did The Wire's counsel retaliate?
The Wire's counsel argued that the news report "is not defamatory"; it is based on the company's annual filings available with the Registrar of Companies. He contended that these are part of investigative journalism, placing a public person up for debate. Further, he remarked that filing a Rs. 100cr suit against a journalist is against the freedom of press and people's right to information.
Presently, what is the situation?
Now, the Gujarat HC has dismissed the plea against the injunction. This implies that The Wire can't publish any news report related "directly or indirectly" to Jay Shah.