A metropolitan court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on a criminal defamation petition filed by Jay Shah, son of BJP chief Amit Shah, against news portal The Wire for publishing a report which stated that his company’s turnover “grew 16,000 times” in the year after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014.
On Tuesday, Jay had also filed a civil defamation suit at the Ahmedabad district (Mirzapur) court against the news portal and damage for Rs 100 crore, but lawyers involved in filing of this case refused to divulge information.
The court adjourned the hearing following an application on behalf of senior lawyer S V Raju, representing Jay, on his non availability. It was prayed that in his absence, the three witnesses in this case —Rajiv H Shah and Jaimin R Shah (residents of Navrangpura) and Vipul P Shukla (resident of Bopal) — cannot be examined.
According to Jay’s application, these witnesses read the alleged defamatory report, and informed him about its publication, which made him to file the complaint. Following Raju’s application, additional chief metropolitan magistrate SK Gadhvi adjourned the matter till October 16. Later when the lawyer sought October 13 as the date of hearing, the magistrate refused.
The criminal case has been filed against reporter Rohini Singh, founding editors of the news portal Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and M K Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta, public editor Pamela Philipose and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit company that publishes The Wire.
The application claims that “the article refers to profit/loss for the financial years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 but deliberately the profit/ loss for FY 2015-16 is not highlighted correspondingly since the accused were aware that the complainant suffered a loss in the concerned company to the tune of approximately Rs. 1.5 crore and since the same would not suit the conspiracy of the accused, only the increase in turnover in FY 2015-16 is correspondingly shown to make it a spicy and selling story at the cost of the reputation of the complainant”.
The application alleged that the author of the article did not give Jay enough time to respond to the question. It claimed, “The accused purposely and malafidely addressed a questionnaire to the complainant at around 1 am on Friday, October 6 and practically no time was given to the complainant and was asked to respond by 6 pm on the same day.”