The Economic and Political Weekly, a 50-year-old weekly peer-reviewed academic journal, was slapped with a defamation notice on 5 July and earlier on 24 June by industrialist Gautam Adani’s Adani Group, for a story on how the government allegedly bent the rules for the group with regard to Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which ostensibly led to the conglomerate earning an alleged refund on tax worth Rs 500 crore.
Here is a copy of the defamation notice dated 5 July 2017, sent to the publisher of the EPW, namely, Sameeksha Trust and the authors of the article – Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (editor-in-chief, EPW), Abir Dasgupta (Editorial Assistant, EPW), and two independent journalists Advait Rao Palepu and Shinzani Jain.
Earlier, the same notice had been sent by the Adani Group’s legal counsel on 24 June, to The Wire , mentioning the aforementioned authors of the article. The Wire had re-published the EPW’s original article titled ‘Modi Government's ₹500 Crore Bonanza to Adani Group Company’ on 19 June.
Speaking to The Quint on the matter, one of the authors of the controversial article, Abir Dasgupta, said that elaborate questionnaires had been sent to the principal secretaries of the Ministry of Finance (and Arun Jaitley) and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (and Minister of State Nirmala Sitharaman), none of whom responded, as mentioned in the EPW’s story itself.
Despite the fact that the EPW’s article had raised questions about the government’s alleged role in assisting Adani’s capitalist pursuits, it was not the Centre that sent the legal notice.
Responding to the defamation notice, the EPW’s legal representative Supreme Court advocate Chandrachur Bhattacharyya stated that not only were the charges made by Adani’s legal counsel in the notices “baseless” but that every argument made by the EPW in its article was “truthful”and could be corroborated by “documentary evidence”, in the EPW’s custody.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta told The Quint that the Adani Group is yet to respond to the EPW’s written reply.
You can read the original story published in the EPW’s June edition here.