The Gujarat High Court has once again restored the gag order on The Wire in the Jay Shah defamation case. The court mentioned that the only issue it was ruling on was whether the trial court had committed an error in impugning its earlier injunction order or not.
In this regard, the court said that it looked at three things:
a) Is there a prima facie case?
b) Is there a balance of convenience?
c) Was there irreparable loss?
The court said that based on the trial court’s orders, both when the initial injunction was ordered and when it was later impugned, it is clear there is a prima facie case.
In regards to the other two issues the court said:
It next needs to be considered, what satisfaction the Trial Court has recorded with regard to the remaining two parameters, as to the balance of convenience lies where, and who would suffer irreparable loss, if the injunction as prayed for is granted/not granted. From record it transpires that, the Trial Court has, in terms, arrived at the conclusion in favour of the plaintiff on these issues. This Court has considered the reasons and the satisfaction recorded by the Trial Court in the impugned order, more particularly in Para: 22 and 23 of the order.
Para 22 says ‘…the defendants have failed to show any justification about the nexus of the Hon’ble Prime Minister with the increase in the business of the plaintiff’s Company.’
Para 23 says ‘…the defendants have failed to show any direct or indirect nexus of association with Hon’ble the Prime Minister as regards the increase in the business of the plaintiff. The defendants have failed to show any justification to the effect that following the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, the plaintiff has flourished.’
Read the entire order on Bar&Bench.
The Wire co-founder, Siddharth Varadarajan said that they will be challenging this verdict in the Supreme Court.
Going against several decades of jurisprudence, Gujarat HC has restored gag order that trial court itself vacated after first granting Jay Amit Shah ex parte injunction against @thewire_in. We will challenge this verdict, which affects media freedom for all, in the Supreme Court.
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) February 20, 2018
Timeline of events
- The article titled “The Golden Touch Jay Amit Shah” by Rohini Singh was published on October 8, 2017.
- Shah filed the civil defamation case against the journalist and The Wire on October 12, 2017.
- On the same day (Oct 12), an Ahmedabad (Rural) trial court first passed the gag order, preventing The Wire from publishing any material related to the article mentioned above and Jay Shah.
- On November 29, 2017, the Gujarat High Court dismissed The Wire’s appeal against the ex parte injunction order passed by the trial court.
- The Wire then filed an appeal before the trial court, and finally, on December 23, 2017, the gag order was lifted.
- Jay Shah appeal this, which led to the current restoration of the gag order.
E-Cool Gaming’s criminal defamation case against The Wire
E-Cool Gaming Solutions Pvt. Ltd. had filed a criminal defamation case against The Wire, back in July last year. The company alleged that this article, which reported on a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) investigation on an alleged Rs 11,000 Crore lottery irregularity in the Mizoram lottery tender and revenue-sharing process from 2012-2015, had twisted and manipulated the facts in the CAG report, and made false and defamatory allegations against E-Cool Gaming.
The Ken and Praveen Sinha
Subscription-based online media publication, The Ken had reported on the alleged conflict of interest in the sale of GoJavas to Quickdel Logistics, and then to Snapdeal, based on the leaked audit report, but were later forced to take down the article after Praveen Sinha, who was the former managing director of Jabong, filed a case against them and an ex-parte interim injunction was passed by a court in Hajipur, Bihar. The Ken had told MediaNama that they “were not made aware of this case nor of its court proceedings. We also do not have the full documents related to it… Nonetheless, we completely stand by the factual accuracy of our article.”