Reiterating its suggestion to Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, and news portal The Wire to try and settle their differences, the Supreme Court on Monday said “there cannot be any gagging of the press”. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said that it had not referred to any “apology” when it first asked the two sides to explore a settlement on April 18.
The court was hearing a plea against the Gujarat High Court order which in February revived a gag order against the news portal and debarred it from publishing any article related to businesses of Jay Shah.
Justice Chandrachud said the bench did not tell the portal at the last hearing to “tender apology” but had only asked both sides to explore an amicable settlement. The remark came when advocate Nithya Ramakrishnan, appearing for the portal, said the other side wanted an apology.
The judge said that Jay Shah may have complaints that his version was not fully carried and the controversy can be put to rest by doing the same. Ramakrishnan said Jay Shah’s version had already been published and that the portal had also offered to publish any further explanation.
The bench asked senior advocate N K Kaul to consider the same. Kaul said he would take instructions in this regard.
However, Kaul said that the objections were about the “slant” and “innuendos” and asked how the portal could allege without any basis that someone’s business prospered just because they knew some politicians. He said, “Jay Shah actually made net losses that year.”
Justice Chandrachud pointed out that such things were possible when people are in public life to which Kaul replied “but I’m not in public life”. The judge quipped that everything cannot be like the old world documentaries. “What is the press all about (without) some slant,” he said in a lighter vein. The court will now hear the matter in July.