Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ahmedabad Court vacates injunction, says "The Wire" can publish stories on Amit Shah's son, but can't name Modi

By Our Representative
In a major setback to the son of BJP president Amit Shah, Jay, who had filed a Rs 100 crore defamation case against "The Wire" for an article on meteoric rise ("16,000 times") in his business activities following the party's ascension to power at the Centre in 2014, the civil court, Mirzapur, Ahmedabad, has vacated the "ex parte ad interim injunction" imposed on the news portal.
The court had granted Jay an "all-encompassing" injunction on October 12, 2017, barring the news portal, its editors and the author of the story, ‘The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah’ from “using and publishing or printing in any electronic, print, digital or any other media, or broadcast, telecast, print and publish in any manner including by way of interview, holding TV talks, debate and debates, news items, programmes in any language on the basis of the article published in ‘The Wire' either directly or indirectly on the subject matter..."
"The Wire" challenged the injunction on the grounds that 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", a press release by the news portal says.
Calling it a "significant, near-total dilution of its previous all encompassing order", "The Wire" says, "The court ruled on December 23 that its injunction is now restricted only to the line 'Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister/elected as Prime Minister'."
"Simply put", the news portal contines, "Barring the use of these words in relation to any discussion of its original story,'The Wire' is free to report and write on any and every aspect of Jay Shah’s business and public activities including the original story."
Shah’s lawyers have been of the view that they were not asking for the original story to be taken off the net at this stage but only wanted no further discussion on the subject matter. The lawyers sought a month’s extension of the original injunction granted until they move the high court. While the civil court said it would give them 15 days, "The Wire" opposed extension of even a day. The injunction finally stood vacated.
"Today’s decision by the civil court is a vindication of 'The Wire’s' fundamental stand that its article ‘The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah’ was a legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression in the public interest", says the news portal.
"The Wire" believes, an important legal-constitutional question, with serious implications for the media industry as a whole, has arisen following the civil defamation suit filed by Jay against its "investigative story" on how some of his businesses grew 16,000 times.
"The question is whether an ad interim (temporary) injunction against publishing follow up stories on a subject can become open ended and therefore assume the nature of a near permanent injunction", "The Wire" wonders, quoting Shah's lawyer, Nirupam Nanavati, as arguing that in money/property suits injunctions are granted and status quo maintained till the main suit is settled one way or the other, and the same should apply to the grant of injunction in this case.
"Nanavati was thus suggesting that the temporary injunction against further publication of follow up stories from the original investigation of Jay Shah’s businesses can be continued till the Rs 100 crore damages suit is settled", the news portal alleges.
However, "The Wire" quotes Nitya Ramakrishnan, it's lawyer, as saying that the law is "precisely the opposite", adding, "A claim of damages on that very ground disentitles him to an injunction. Jay cannot file a defamation suit and simultaneously seek an open-ended injunction preventing 'The Wire' from bringing more facts to establish the truth of all the assertions in its investigations."
"Ramakrishnan further argued that Jay had in the first place acknowledged in writing all the facts 'The Wire' had published in regard to his business activities – turnover, profits/losses, loans – which were accessed from the public record maintained by the Registrar of Companies (RoC) under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs", it adds.

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