Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Monday rejected a petition filed by news portal ‘The Wire’ seeking quashing of a criminal defamation case filed against it by BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay over an article related to his company.
Justice J B Pardiwala rejected the petition on the grounds that the article, “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”, is per say “defamatory” and the trial court should proceed with the case.
The HC, which had earlier directed the trial court to complete the hearing in the case in six months, on Monday withdrew that order.
This means there is no time-frame for the trial court to complete the hearing.
S M Vatsa, the lawyer for the author of the article and editors of the news portal, had maintained the news report was not “defamatory,” and the facts presented in it were based on public documents.
The petitioners had maintained the article was a part of investigative journalism and filing a criminal defamation suit against it was against the freedom of the press.
Jay Shah’s lawyer S V Raju, on the other hand, had maintained the article was “defamatory” and the two witnesses examined by the lower court had established that the reputation of his client was tarnished due to its publication.
Jay Shah had moved the lower court alleging criminal defamation by the petitioners after the article published by the website claimed his company’s turnover grew exponentially after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.
After the suit was filed on October 9, 2017, the court initiated proceedings against them under the CrPC section 202 (to inquire into a case to decide whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding).
The suit has been filed against the author of the article Rohini Singh, founding editors of the news portal Siddharth Varadarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and M K Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta, public editor Pamela Philipose and the Foundation for Independent Journalism.
The foundation publishes `The Wire’.
With the quashing of the plea, the matter is expected to come up for hearing in the lower court on Tuesday.
Jay Shah has separately filed a civil defamation suit of Rs 100 crore against the website over the article.
Jay Shah had rejected the charge made in the article, insisting the story was “false, derogatory and defamatory.”