In an unprecedented move, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday allowed a petition moved by a resident of Dahod, who has appealed against the lower court’s gag order to news portal The Wire forcing it to desist writing on the business of Jay Shah, BJP chief Amit Shah’s son. The petitioner, Rajesh L Bhabhor, 36, is a resident of Usarvan in Dahod district, and is not connected with the Jay Shah case. He has prayed for review of the order passed by Justice Paresh Upadhyay on February 23.
In that order, Justice Upadhyay had allowed Jay’s appeal petition filed against the trial court order which had lifted the ex parte injunction against The Wire while directing the news portal to restrain from linking the article to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On Wednesday, allowing condonation of delay in challenging the order which was passed on February 23, the court of Justice Paresh Upadhyay remarked orally, “I am going to suspend the order… this may appear to be illegal order, but a tribal man has approached this court and he is being harassed by the local sitting Member of Parliament and local police for filing this petition.”
Bhabhor has moved the court, claiming that he is a Scheduled Tribe (ST) and also works for the protection of the rights of the tribes. He has claimed in the petition, “Recently, a few persons belonging to the ST community from different states of the country, like Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, contacted the applicant and told that elections were due in the state of Karnataka for legislative assembly, and this time, the Scheduled Tribes of the state of Karnataka will have to take a call, which type of government should elect, so that the rights of the persons belonging to scheduled tribes can be properly protected and nurtured.”
The matter will be heard on Thursday. Incidentally, the division bench which stayed justice Upadhyay’s order and passed a gag order will also hear the case on Thursday. Bhabhor has stated in the petition that “there is a strong feeling on the field that the rights of the Scheduled Tribes, more particularly the youths, that too in the matter of right of freedom of speech and expression, are seriously jeopardised.”