The Wire has withdrawn its petition to quash a defamation case against them. Siddharth Varadarajan, its founding editor, claims that fighting the case shall prove that every journalistic ethic and norm was respectfully and carefully followed in writing the story in question.
Jay Amit Shah, son of BJP Party President Amit Shah, had alleged that The Wire had defamed him. He went on to file a criminal defamation suit as well as a civil defamation case against The Wire in which he has sought ₹100 crore in damages on the grounds of an article posted by Rohini Singh about his business affairs.
The original article is titled: “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”.
The Wire initially was against fighting this case, and it sought to quash the case entirely. But, on Tuesday afternoon, Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of The Wire, told the bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice MR Shah and Justice BR Gavai as soon as the case was called out.
Initially, a petition was filed based on the claim that Jay Amit Shah’s legal counsel has filed a defamation without the basic ingredients of criminal defamation. A second petition was also filed in 2018, when an injunction against the further publication of material on the business affairs of Jay Amit Shah – that the trial court had imposed ex parte, and then vacated– was restored by the Gujarat high court.
Jay Shah’s cases name seven persons/entities as respondents – investigative reporter Rohini Singh, Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu and Sidharth Bhatia, The Wire’s managing editor Monobina Gupta, Pamela Philipose.
Soon after Tuesday’s hearing, The Wire delivered a brief report clearing up why it was retreating its petitions and going straight to trial:
“Circumstances have arisen as per which we believe it is best if we make use of the opportunity to justify everything we have stated in our article at the trial. We are therefore withdrawing.
“We believe the fight for media freedoms will have to be advanced at all levels. Our article was factual, based not only on record but on facts admitted by Jay Amit Shah. Though it is still very much our belief that neither a criminal case nor an injunction is legally justifiable, we intend to face trial in Gujarat secure in the knowledge that the constitutionally mandated rights of the media will eventually prevail.”