Ahmedabad court bars The Wire from writing on Jay Shah's businesses, website says it will challenge 'gag order'

After BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah filed a defamation case against The Wire for publishing a report on alleged financial irregularities in his company, an Ahmedabad court on Monday barred the news website from writing any more articles on his businesses, The Indian Express reported.

The report noted that the court took the decision to protect Jay's right to live with dignity. Nevertheless, the injunction was issued without hearing the arguments of the news website.

The injunction issued to The Wire stated:

"Pending hearing and final disposal of the interim injunction, defendants are restrained by order ad-interim injunction from using and publishing or printing in any electronic, print, digital or any other media, or broadcast,telecast, print and publish in any manner including by way of interview, holding TV talks, debate and debates, news items, programs in any language on the basis of the article published in The Wire (dated 8/10/2017) either directly or indirectly on the subject matter with respect to the plaintiff in any manner whatsoever."

Additional Senior Civil Judge BK Dasondi of Ahmedabad rural court defended the injunction and was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, "It is mandatory for this court to issue notice of such application to the opposite party (The Wire). But in the present case, it appears that if an immediate remedy is not given to the applicant, there is a chance of publishing the news, for which the present plaintiff has filed the suit.”

However, The Wire, in a press release, said that it will challenge the "gag order". The news website also added that Jay's lawyers had not substantially highlighted any untruth or factual errors in the report.

 Ahmedabad court bars The Wire from writing on Jay Shahs businesses, website says it will challenge gag order

File image of Jay Shah. AFP

On 8 October, Jay had filed a criminal defamation case in a metropolitan court in Ahmedabad against news portal The Wire over a report, which claimed his firm's turnover grew exponentially after the party came to power in 2014.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate SK Gadhvi had ordered a court inquiry into the matter under CrPC section 202 (to inquire into the case to decide whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding).

In his application, Shah had 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 statements".

The seven respondents in the case are the author of the article Rohini Singh, founding editors of the news portal Siddarth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta, public editor Pamela Philipose and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit company that publishes The Wire.

The case had been filed under IPC sections 500 (defamation), 109 (abetment), 39 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).

Shah had said the news portal first published an article, which was later "edited and reworded" to the current form.

"The accused conspired to get a fabricated, reworded and edited version of the defamatory article to be published in place of the original version," he had said.

Claiming there was a "predetermined conspiracy hatched to defame" him, Jay said he was given "unreasonable time to respond" and no further inquiry based on his response was made.

Jay had said the article did not reflect the loss that his company incurred in FY 2015-16, and that the net profit and gross turnover for the said financial year was "wilfully and malafidely" delinked into two different unconnected paragraphs.

The Wire had said in its report that a company owned by Jay saw a huge rise in its turnover after the BJP came to power in 2014. However, Shah rejected the charge, insisting that the story was "false, derogatory and defamatory".

A political storm erupted after the article titled 'Golden touch of Jay Amit Shah' was published. The Congress demanded an inquiry into the matter and ouster of Shah, while the BJP called the article defamatory.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Oct 20, 2017 11:59:28 IST