Observing that “prima facie it seems there is a case” against The Wire for its “defamatory” article against BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay, a metropolitan court here on Tuesday issued summons to the reporter of the article and editors of the website to appear before it on November 13 in the criminal defamation case filed against them. Jay had moved the court over a report in the website which stated that his firm’s turnover grew exponentially after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014. Metropolitan Magistrate S K Gadhvi recorded the statement of two witnesses produced by Jay — Jaimin Shah and Rajiv Shah — and heard his lawyer S V Raju’s argument, and subsequently issued the summons.
“Considering the evidence, in the form of documents and statements of witnesses, prima facie it seems that there is a case against the respondent accused under Section 500 of Indian Penal Code (defamation). Therefore it is ordered to issue process against the accused,” the court held. In the order, the magistrate noted the argument by Jay’s lawyer — “that the accused wrote and published defamatory article against the complainant and didn’t seek response from another director of his firm, Jitendra Shah.”
The order also mentions Jay’s contention that “the news portal didn’t give enough time to him to send his response, the article didn’t include the loss incurred by his company in the year 2015-2016, and created confusion over the turnover to defame him.” Jay Tuesday appeared in the witness box for verification of his complaint, and narrated how he came to know about the article through his friends Jaimin and Rajiv. During the hearing earlier, Raju argued that The Wire’s article, under the headline “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”, is itself defamatory. He said that “Golden Touch” was taken by the portal from Greek mythology and dragged “Amit Shah’s name, despite the fact that he has nothing to do with it. It is not a simple article. it is mala fide. It was written to create a political issue in view of elections.”
In his application, Jay has prayed for “criminal action against the respondents for defaming and tarnishing the reputation of the complainant through an article, which is scandalous, frivolous, misleading, derogatory, libelous and consisting of several defamatory statement”. The seven respondents in the case are the reporter Rohini Singh; founding editors of The Wire Siddarth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and M K Venu; managing editor Monobina Gupta; public editor Pamela Philipose; and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit which publishes the website.