Relief for The Wire in Jay Shah case

Website asked not to link article with Prime Minister Narendra Modi till libel suit is disposed of

Updated - December 25, 2017 01:10 am IST

Published - December 24, 2017 09:24 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah during the latter’s son Jay Shah's (far left) wedding reception in New Delhi on February 15, 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah during the latter’s son Jay Shah's (far left) wedding reception in New Delhi on February 15, 2015.

An Ahmedabad court has vacated an ex parte order of October 12 placing absolute restraint on the publication of an article by the online news portal The Wire pertaining to the “dramatic increase” in some of the businesses of BJP president Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah, but restrained the news website from indirectly or directly linking the article with Prime Minister Narendra Modi till the final disposal of the defamation suit filed by Jay Shah.

The Fourth Additional Civil Judge, Mirzapur, Ahmedabad, Badri Kamalkumar Dasondi, on December 23, had passed a 26-page order on an application filed by Mr. Jay Shah in connection with his ₹100-crore defamation suit with regard tofor the article titled ‘The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah’ published by the news portal.

The article alleged that Mr. Jay Shah’s businesses saw an increase “since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.” It said the “turnover of the company owned by Shah’s son increased 16,000 times over in the year following the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

The court restricted the portal or parties involved, represented by advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, from indirectly or directly using the words “since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister/following the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister” on the basis of the article in any manner.

‘No justification’

“Defendants have failed to show the direct or indirect nexus of association with the Honourable Prime Minister as regards to increase in the businesses of the plaintiff [Jay Shah]. The defendants have failed to show, rather no justification has been placed for relating it to the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Hence, at this juncture, the same needs to be restrained qua that position,” the court reasoned.

Noting that “a true press is duty-bound to narrate a clear picture of facts”, the court observed that the article was based on data accessed from the records of the Registrar of Companies, which were “accessible to the public at large”.

It observed that the plaintiff has neither denied nor questioned the facts in the reports obtained through the Registrar of Companies. Nor has the plaintiff objected to the data published.

“When the defendants have published the article on the basis of facts collected from a public record, the same can be termed to be enshrined in Article 21 of our Constitution,” the court said, referring to judicial precedents that Article 21 includes the citizens’ right to know in a free democracy.

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