March 11, 2021 3:28:50 am
Former Economic and Political Weekly editor and senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking a transfer of the defamation criminal case filed by Adani Power from a Mundra court in Kutch to the competent court in Ahmedabad.
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the state government and Adani Power in the petition. The parties are expected to respond by March 24, when the matter is scheduled to be heard next.
The criminal complaint was filed by Adani Power in December 2017 for a June 2017 article in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) titled, “Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group”, against its authors – the then editor of EPW, Thakurta, Advait Rao Palepu, Shinzini Jain and Abir Dasgupta as well as MK Venu, the founding editor of independent news portal The Wire and Foundation for Independent Journalism.
The latter two were made party to the complaint since the original EPW article was republished by The Wire.
As per Adani Power’s lawyer, “a settlement was arrived at” with the other defendants of the complaint, except for Thakurta
Thakurta, represented by advocate Anand Yagnik, has highlighted in the petition that the respondent party Adani Power has its corporate office in Ahmedabad and given Thakurta’s multiple ailments, it would thus be convenient in general for all to face trial in an Ahmedabad court.
“It is submitted that earlier also several Civil Suits (in 2017 and 2018)…were filed, subject to correction, by different companies falling under the corporate structure of the Adani Group in Ahmedabad district since the registered office of Adani Group was at Ahmedabad… Such civil suits were filed in Ahmedabad district though subsequently they were withdrawn. It is stated and submitted that since the Registered Office is in Ahmedabad district, for the convenience of parties and in the interest of justice the present petition requires consideration and the proceedings from Mundra, Kutch require to be transferred to a competent court at Ahmedabad.”
It has also been highlighted in the petition that Thakurta “apprehends” that it would be futile exercise if the trial continues at Mundra. The apprehension, as is elaborated, arises from the “perverse orders” passed by the court in the past against Thakurta.
This is in reference to a non-bailable warrant that was issued by the Mundra court against Thakurta in December 2020 for remaining absent during court proceedings. The Mundra taluka court’s order was subsequently suspended by the Gujarat HC in January.
Thakurta has also submitted that he suffers from age-related ailments, is on medication for cardiac-related problems following a myocardial infarction, suffers from spinal ailment called stenosis and is also asthmatic from childhood.
Apart from seeking a transfer of the criminal case to Ahmedabad, Thakurta has also prayed for a stay on the proceedings before the Mundra court, pending a final decision in the petition before the Gujarat HC.
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