‘Can’t Restrain Media’: CJI at Jay Shah Vs The Wire Case Hearing

“If The Wire is willing to publish clarifications asked by Jay Shah, then that is as fair as it can be”, said SC.

2 min read
File photo of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. 

The Supreme Court on Monday, 23 April asked Jay Shah and news portal The Wire to settle the civil defamation case filed by the son of BJP chief Amit Shah against the news portal for carrying a story on the exponential increase in the turnover of his company after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud reportedly said that if the news portal was willing to publish any clarifications asked for by the petitioner, “then that is as fair as it can be”.

Earlier on Wednesday, 18 April senior lawyers appearing for the news portal and Jay Shah to meet and try to resolve the issue that led to the filing of criminal defamation.

CJI Dipak Misra reportedly said that he believes in the freedom of press, and doesn’t believe in “restraining the media”.

When Shah's lawyer referred to slant in the story, juctice Chandrachud reportedly said public life has pros and cons.

“They (media) will put a little bit of slant, a little bit of masala...”, justice Chandrachud reportedly said.

"Can it be solved," Justice Chandrachud earlier on 18 April, asked senior counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan for The Wire and Neeraj Kishan Kaul for Jay Shah, with Chief Justice Misra suggesting "why not senior counsels meet and try to resolve (the issue)".

"What kind of settlement we can have? We don't want to have any settlement. We stand by our story. It was done in public interest," said Ramakrishnan, with Kaul saying, "if the court says go for settlement, we are prepared for it.”

The Wire, its founding editor and the journalist, Rohini Singh, have moved the top court against the Gujarat High Court's 8 January order, refusing to quash the summons issued against them by a trial court.

Singh's article on the company of Jay Shah was carried by the news portal. The article claimed that Jay's company's turnover grew exponentially after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.

The top court had asked the Gujarat trial court not to proceed with the criminal defamation complaint till 12 April filed by Jay Shah last year against the news portal and its journalists. The interim order was extended on 18 April.

The High Court had on 8 January rejected the portal's plea for quashing the criminal defamation case filed by Jay Shah and said that based on initial impression, there was a case against the reporter and the editors.

"The article 'The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah' is per say defamatory and the trial court should proceed with the case," the high court had ordered. In October 2017, Jay Shah had filed a criminal defamation case in the trial court in Gujarat after the article appeared.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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