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EPW Publisher Sameeksha Trust Accuses Editor of “Breach of Trust”

EPW editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta stepped down following a defamation notice served to him by Adani’s lawyer.

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Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (R) has stepped down from his position as the Economic and Political Weekly’s editor. 
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The Sameeksha Trust, which publishes the Economic and Political Weekly peer-reviewed academic journal, said on Thursday that its editor who recently quit under a cloud had "unilaterally" initiated legal proceedings against a business house after being served a legal notice over two articles. Former editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta took the step while keeping the office-bearers of the trust in the dark, Sameeksha Trust said in a statement.

In response, Guha Thakurta said the trustees were not sharing the "full picture" that led to his resignation.

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Did Guha Thakurta Keep Sameeksha Trust in the Dark?

The EPW articles claimed favours were given to the Adani Group by the Centre and that it evaded taxes. Last month, Adani served a legal notice to Sameeksha, Guha Thakurta and three co-authors of the articles, threatening legal action against them. The articles have since been taken down from the EPW website.

The statement said:

Mr Guha Thakurta initiated a legal process ostensibly on behalf of the Sameeksha Trust without informing, let alone obtaining approval of, the trust although such a decision was not in the domain of the editor to make.

The Sameeksha trust added in its statement:

The legal reply (sent on the instruction of Mr Guha Thakurta) falsely began with a statement that it was at the instruction of the Sameeksha Trust. This reply and the legal notice were placed on the EPW website, even before the Chairman and Managing Trustee were informed, so that the Trustees were completely unaware of these developments.

Guha Thakurta’s Step a “Breach of Trust”

The trust described Guha Thakurta's step as a "grave impropriety amounting to a breach of trust". The same was conveyed to the veteran journalist, the statement said.

"Thereupon, Mr Guha Thakurta submitted his resignation. It was accepted by the Trustees after due deliberation," it said.

Guha Thakurta’s Version

Guha Thakurta told PTI that the statement issued by the trust about the interaction that the trustees had with him on 18 July "does not give the full picture of what transpired" that day.

He said that he had acknowledged his “procedural lapse” of unilaterally taking the legal route, and had also apologised to the trust for the same.
To set the record in context, I wish to state that the interaction between the trustees and me went beyond what I consider a procedural lapse on my part in failing to seek the prior consent and approval of the trust before engaging the services of a lawyer to respond to a notice that were served upon me and my co-authors.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Former Editor, EPW

‘No Question’ of Bowing to Pressure

The Sameeksha statement said EPW is a unique institution with a reputation for independent and impartial journalism, built over five decades. The trust issued a statement saying:

There is no question of the Sameeksha Trust ... bowing to external pressures of any kind. It never has. It is guided solely by the objectives of maintaining the ethos, quality and standards of EPW, while ensuring spotless propriety and ethics in the working of its staff.

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