SC stays defamation proceedings by Jay Shah against news portal
New Delhi, March 15 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Thursday asked a Gujarat trial court not to proceed till April 12 with a criminal defamation complaint filed by Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, against news portal The Wire and its journalists.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud asked Jay Shah and others to respond to the journalists’ petition challenging the Gujarat high court’s refusal to quash the trial court’s summons.
Jay Shah had filed the criminal defamation suit on October 9 last year over a report that said his company’s turnover grew exponentially after the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in May 2014.
Jay Shah says the story was “false, derogatory and defamatory” and has also filed a civil defamation suit of Rs 100 crore against the website.
The bench observed that the media should be more responsible and said it cannot write whatever it feels about anyone.
The chief justice, while repeatedly stressing that he was not commenting on the case before it, also said that sometimes journalists write in a way that amounts to “sheer contempt of court”.
“We are not going to gag the media. The question of gagging the media does not arise. But the press should be more responsible,” he said.
“How can anyone write whatever they feel about anyone? There are limits,” the chief justice observed. “... they are writing sometimes which amounts to sheer contempt of court,” he added.
On January 8, the Gujarat High Court had rejected The Wire’s petition to get the criminal defamation case quashed.
The high court had said that the article, “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”, is per se “defamatory” and the trial court should proceed with the case.
After the suit was filed, the court had begun proceedings to inquire into a case to decide whether or not there is sufficient ground.
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, which publishes The Wire.