News website The Wire withdrew its petitions for the quashing of the cases of defamation filed against it by BJP president Amit Shah's son, Jay. In 2017, Jay had filed cases of criminal and civil defamation against the editors of the website for a report on his "business affairs", and sought Rs 100 crore in damages.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for The Wire before a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Tuesday, submitted that the news website will withdraw its petitions and let the law take its course. "The Wire will now defend itself in the trial court in Gujarat. Both matters had been stayed by the Supreme Court until now," the website said in a statement published online.
In another statement explaining its reasons for withdrawing the petitions, the news website said, "Circumstances have arisen as per which we believe it is best if we make use of the opportunity to justify everything we have stated in our article at the trial. We are therefore withdrawing.
“We believe the fight for media freedoms will have to be advanced at all levels. Our article was factual, based not only on record but on facts admitted by Jay Amit Shah. Though it is still very much our belief that neither a criminal case nor an injunction is legally justifiable, we intend to face trial in Gujarat secure in the knowledge that the constitutionally mandated rights of the media will eventually prevail.”
On Tuesday, the bench, comprising of Justice MR Shah and BR Gavai, said that freedom of the press cannot be one-way-traffic and "yellow journalism" should not take place, after Sibal informed them of the decision to withdraw the petitions.
Later in the evening, Siddharth Varadarajan, one of the founding editors of the portal issued a statement, saying, "We told the court we wanted to withdraw and face trial. The bench has had no occasion to hear either side on the merits of The Wire article on Jay Shah story. Yet Justices Arun Mishra and RB Gavai called it 'yellow journalism'.
"By fighting things out in a trial, we will clearly and precisely establish on evidence that we meticulously followed every journalistic norm, that we only published what we could defend."
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Aug 28, 2019 12:00:30 IST