New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked a Gujarat trial court not to proceed till April 12 with the criminal defamation complaint filed by BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah against the news portal The Wire and its journalists.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked Jay Shah and others, who have filed the complaint against the scribes, to respond within two weeks to the plea filed by the journalists against the Gujarat High Court’s order, refusing to quash summons issued against them by the trial court.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, 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”.
“I have told many times about Freedom of Speech and Expression. 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. The Gujarat High Court had on January 8 rejected a petition filed by the news portal, seeking quashing of a criminal defamation case filed against it by Jay Shah over an article related to his company.
The high court rejected the petition on the grounds that the article, “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”, is per say “defamatory” and the trial court should proceed with the case.
Jay Shah had moved the lower court alleging criminal defamation by the petitioners after the article published by the website claimed his company’s turnover grew exponentially after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.
After the suit was filed on October 9, 2017, the court initiated proceedings against them under CrPC’s section 202 (to inquire into a case to decide whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding).
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. The foundation publishes The Wire.
Jay Shah has separately filed a civil defamation suit of Rs 100 crore against the website over the article. Jay Shah had rejected the charge made in the article, insisting the story was “false, derogatory and defamatory”.