In a setback to The Wire, the Gujarat High Court Tuesday ordered to restore the ex parte injunction, barring the website from publishing further report on Jay Shah, BJP president Amit Shah’s son, and his firm’s turnover which, according to its report, had increased 16,000 times in the year after Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister. The website is facing Rs100-crore damage suit, filed by Jay Shah, in a trial court.
Justice Paresh Upadhyay allowed the appeal petition moved by Jay Shah against a trial court order, which had lifted the injunction against the portal, while restraining it from linking the article to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The order states, “The trial court has, on the basis of the material before it, framed the issues in the injunction application, with regard to prima facie case, balance of convenience and irreparable loss and has answered all the three issues in favour of the plaintiff. The trial court has, however, termed them to be ‘partly affirmative’.”
“It is noted that, even without hearing the defendants, the trial court had found that, the plaintiff does have case against the defendants and had therefore passed the restrain order on 12.10.2017… Even after hearing the defendants, the trial court has noted that, the defendants need to be restrained. On the face of this satisfaction of the trial court, the first issue, as to whether the plaintiff has prima facie case or not, need not detain this court any further. It is held that, the plaintiff does have prima facie case,” Justice Upadhyay has noted in the order.
While quoting the trial court’s finding, on lifting the ex parte injunction but restraining The Wire from linking it to Modi’s election, the order states, “The defendants have failed to show any justification about the nexus of the Prime Minister with the increase in the business of the plaintiff’s company”. The trial court has also recorded its satisfaction to the effect that, “…the defendants have failed to show any direct or indirect nexus of association with the Prime Minister as regards the increase in the business of the plaintiff. The defendants have failed to show any justification to the effect that following the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, the plaintiff has flourished.”
The order states, “On the basis of the above satisfaction, the trial court was required to pass appropriate restrain order… The trial court did grant relief to the plaintiff, however, the trial court fell in error by restricting the relief in favour of the plaintiff to the limited extent of ‘referring to the name of the Prime Minister’. It is this error which needs to be corrected in this Appeal.”
It adds, “On conjoint consideration of these aspects, this court finds that, the initial restrain order dated 12.10.2017 was not required to be diluted by the trial court. The said order, therefore, needs to be restored.”