New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear on 27 August the pleas of news portal 'The Wire' and its scribes in a criminal defamation case filed against them by Jay Shah, son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, for allegedly writing a defamatory article.
The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah where senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, said there were two cases, one criminal defamation and other a civil suit of Rs 100 crore filed by Jay Shah.
Sibal said in the criminal case, the Gujarat High Court had refused to quash the defamation complaint after which the petitioners have moved the top court.
He said in a separate civil suit, the high court had restored a gag order against the news portal debarring it from publishing any article related to businesses of Jay Shah.
Sibal said proceedings in the criminal case were earlier stayed by the apex court and in the civil suit, written statements of the parties have been filed. He said both these matters were required to be heard at length by the apex court.
Jay Shah has filed a criminal defamation complaint against the portal and its journalists, including Rohini Singh, who had authored the news story.
The complaint was filed against Rohini Singh, founding editors of the news portal Siddharth Varadarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and MK Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta, public editor Pamela Philipose as also the Foundation for Independent Journalism, which publishes 'The Wire'.
Jay Shah had moved the lower court alleging defamation by the petitioners after the article claimed that his company's turnover grew exponentially after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.
He has rejected all the charges made in the article, insisting that the story was "false, derogatory and defamatory". The news portal had earlier told the top court that the article contained details from records which were in "public domain electronically".
During the hearing on Friday, the bench asked Sibal about the order passed by the lower court as well as the high court in the matter. "What is the stage of the trial (in the criminal defamation complaint)," the bench asked Sibal.
Sibal said that criminal proceeding was earlier stayed by the apex court. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Jay Shah, said that the matters should be posted for hearing. The bench, after hearing the submissions, said it would hear these matters on 27 August.
In September last year, Jay Shah had urged the apex court to lift the stay on the Gujarat trial court proceedings on the criminal defamation complaint filed by him. His counsel had claimed in the top court that there was sufficient material to proceed against the news portal and its scribes and the judicial process should not be stalled.
In April last year, the apex court had said that "there cannot be gagging of the press" and asked Jay Shah and the news portal to settle the civil defamation suit.
The high court, in February last year, had allowed the appeal filed by Jay Shah against a lower court order, which had partly lifted the injunction against the news portal while restraining it from linking the article to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Updated Date: Jul 26, 2019 18:07:50 IST