Updated: November 28, 2017 11:18:47 am
The Gujarat High Court Tuesday dismissed Delhi-based news portal The Wire’s plea against the gag order issued by a lower court. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah secured the gag order after the news portal carried an article claimed that his company’s turnover rose 16,000 times in one year after the NDA came to power.
The Wire moved the High Court after the Ahmedabad court issued an ex parte injunction against the news website, preventing it from publishing any content “directly or indirectly” about Amit Shah’s son. The news portal had then moved the Gujarat High Court, which on November 20 reserved its judgement.
During the hearing in the High Court, Jay Shah’s counsel had contended people have a “certain perception” about Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, and “if you bring me in (the) company of crooks, it would amount to defamation”.
“I am not saying Vadra is a crook but if you put me in the list, it is defamatory,” senior lawyer S V Raju, appearing for Jay, argued before Justice J B Pardiwala of Gujarat High Court during hearing of a petition moved by the Delhi-based website for quashing the criminal defamation case. Raju mentioned Vadra after The Wire’s counsel, Mihir Joshi, said that the reporter of the article on Jay Shah had exposed Vadra’s land dealings earlier.
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Joshi argued that the article “per se is not defamatory, and all the facts are based on public documents”. He argued that “none of the facts written in the articles have been denied.” He argued that such articles are part of investigative journalism, which puts a public person up on debate. In democracy, he told the court, such articles should not have a chilling effect — and that filing a Rs 100-crore suit and defamation case against a journalist is against freedom of the press and the people’s right to information.
Jay Shah had filed a Rs 100 crore defamation suit against the online portal after it ran a piece “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”claiming that his company’s profits increased multifold since 2014. The news portal, however, stuck by its report and said it was based on the company’s annual filings which are available with the Registrar of Companies.
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