Skip to main content

The Wire: New York-based journalists' group objects to criminal defamation, criticizes Gujarat court move

PM Narendra Modi with Jay and Amit Shah
By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), one of the world's most prestigious associations of mediapersons, has come down heavily on the decision of "India's judiciary to proceed with a criminal defamation complaint against The Wire and issue an injunction preventing the news website from reporting about Jay Shah, the son of the ruling BJP party's president Amit Shah, while the defamation case is being heard."
Referring to the October 12 Ahmedabad court issuing an injunction barring The Wire from writing about Jay Shah's businesses "so that the right to live with dignity of the plaintiff (Jay) may be protected," CPJ wonders how was it that "the news website learned of the injunction only after being sent a copy of the order", quoting a statement published by The Wire on October 16.
"The injunction was issued as part of a criminal defamation case that Jay Shah filed against the news website on October 11. The legal action is related to an October 8 report in The Wire about the turnover of Jay Shah's company, Temple Enterprises, since Narendra Modi became prime minister and his father became party leader", CPJ says.
Also objecting to the "Gujarat court" issuing "summons for those named in the criminal defamation complaint to appear on November 13", CPJ says, "If convicted, the journalists could be jailed for up to two years, or fined." It adds, "One of the The Wire's founding editors, Siddharth Varadarajan, who is named in the complaint, told CPJ via email that The Wire would challenge the injunction."
"A democracy like India should not use criminal defamation proceedings and censorship to resolve publishing disputes," CPJ Asia programme coordinator Steven Butler in New York has been quoted as saying. "Rather than shutting down reporting by The Wire, Indian authorities should take steps to change the country's outdated defamation laws."
The defamation complaint was filed under sections 500 [criminal defamation], 109 [abetment], 39 [voluntarily causing grievous hurt] and 120B [criminal conspiracy] and names the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit that publishes the website; The Wire's founding editors Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, and MK Venu; Rohini Singh, a reporter; Pamela Philipose, a public editor; and managing editor Monobina Gupta, according to a report in the Business Standard, CPJ notes.
It adds, "The injunction bars The Wire from publishing further stories on Shah's business for the duration of the criminal defamation trial, but it did not require the news website to remove stories already posted, according to Varadarajan."
At the same time, CPJ quotes Nirupam Nanavati, a lawyer representing Jay Shah, defending the use of the injunction as telling CPJ, "Once you write or speak [about a person], you might issue a denial but the injury caused to the person is irreversible and irreparable and can't be compensated in terms of money."
It comments, "The Wire has faced ex-parte injunctions -- an injunction in which only one party is heard -- previously. In March, CPJ documented how a Bangalore city civil court issued an ex-parte injunction ordering The Wire to take down two articles critical of Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a member of India's upper house of parliament."
"Separately", CJP adds, "In August, CPJ documented how the Karkardooma District Court in Delhi issued an injunction that restrained Juggernaut Books from publishing 'Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev', after the guru filed a complaint."

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.