Victory ensued for the online news portal The Wire and Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) as a Gujarat court has rejected the lawsuit filed by industrialist Gautam Adani’s Adani Group against Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, three other journalists, and The Wire for an article published against the Adani Group.
The Wire republished EPW’s article hence, was dragged to court along with Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, the then-Editor-in-Chief of EPW. The court only ordered a sentence and an adverb to be removed from the 3500-word article.
The article titled “Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group” was published by EPW on June 17 and was later reproduced by The Wire on June 19. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Abir Dasgupta, Advait Rao Palepu and Shinzani Jain were the authors of the article when it was published.
In the December 16 order, the Principal Senior Civil Judge Jaiminkumar R Pandit Bhuj-Kacch asked for the following line to be removed. “The High Court was misled and wrongly recorded the customs duty on electricity from the SEZ to DTA will not be maintainable as this will lead to double taxation.” He also asked for the removal of the word “surprisingly” used in the same paragraph.
The current order came as the judge noticed there was not enough verifiable evidence supporting these claims.
The court also observed that the article was written after a questionnaire was sent to the Adani Group before it was published. The article was written based on the material available. Hence the article “cannot be said to be defamatory”, and hence “there is no prima facie case.”
Economic Political weekly forced Paranjoy Guha Thakurta to resign after the case was filed against them. EPW also took the article down. But The Wire refused to do so and said: “Worried about the threat of an expensive lawsuit by one of India’s biggest corporate houses, the trustees running the journal (EPW) ordered the removal of an article critical of Adani Power Ltd.”
Jay Shah and The Wire
On October 8, 2017, The Wire had published a story titled The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah with the help of government materials which said that Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah’s, company assets increased by 1600 times after BJP came into power. Jay Shah filed a 100-crore lawsuit on The Wire and asked for a gag order on the article. An Ahmadabad court vacated its ex parte ad interim injunction imposed on the news portal two months ago.
“The Wire had challenged the injunction because it represented an unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of the press and that there was nothing defamatory about the original article which was based entirely on public records and information provided by Jay Shah,” said The Wire in a statement.
Complying with the order
Complying with the order, The Wire said in its end note to the article, “The Wire had contested the application for injunction moved by M/s Adani Power Limited, regarding the article titled ‘Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group’. The Ld Principal Senior Civil Judge (Bhuj-Kacch) has accepted all ‘The Wire’s’ contentions in the said application and has only ordered removal of one line pertaining to a High Court decision as well as one adverb.” They have removed the sentence and the adverb.