The Gujarat High Court on Friday reserved its verdict on a petition moved by Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, challenging a lower court order which lifted the gag order that had barred the news portal The Wire write on the exceptional increase in his firm’s turnover. After the hearing in the case concluded on Friday, Justice Paresh Upadhyay reserved the verdict. Jay Shah had moved the court in December 2017 against the order of Ahmedabad district court which lifted the ex parte injunction and allowed the web portal to write about Jay’s business without referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The lawyers appearing for The Wire argued: “We stand by the article. Do we need to do the article threadbare … whether it is defamatory or not I stand by it and to succeed in interim injunction I don’t need to prove it. At this stage, the interim injunction prevents a public discourse because this article was written to agitate people to talk about it but not to create any chaos. The injunction simply prevents it.”
They argued that if the case was limited to a private person, then the comments could not be made but if he or she was connected with a public figure, business related to rise or fall will be commented upon by people. Jay Shah’s lawyer, senior counsel Nirupam Nanavati, on the other hand, argued that the trial court had prima facie held that dragging Prime Minister in the write-up was not right.
He argued: “Connecting my father’s position and Prime Minister so to tell the world that I (Jay) enhanced my business because of these connections can never said to be an honest opinion and the burden of proving that it is not defamatory is on respondents (portal). Assuming that whatever they collected from the record may be true but can you publish in this manner in the name of public interest? The language and the innuendo used don’t say their article is an honest opinion but only to malign me and my father and the Prime Minister. The trial court found that the PM was wrongly involved so the portal was restrained.”
This case pertains to the civil suit filed against the web portal through which Jay Shah has claimed a damage of Rs 100 crore. The Ahmedabad district court had granted interim injunction against the portal, restraining it from further publishing anything on the same subject. In December 2017, the court lifted the injunction which has been challenged by Jay in the court.