Suspending an order of a trial court at Vapi in a defamation case against environmental activist Sunita Narain, the Gujarat High Court gave relief to her on Friday and stayed proceedings against her as well as four of her colleagues.
Justice S G Shah has stayed the defamation proceedings as well as the non-bailable warrant issued by a trial court at Vapi until the next hearing on June 26.
Narain, a Padmashri awardee, has sought to quash proceedings and a non-bailable warrant against her and her colleagues Vibha Varshney, Arnab Pratim Dutta, Sanjeev Kumar Kanchan and Ankur Paliwal, issued by the additional judicial magistrate in Vapi on April 29.
Narain had to move the Gujarat High Court after a defamation complaint filed by a Vapi-based company called United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) under the Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code against Narain, who is the editor and publisher of the magazine ‘Down to Earth’ and others, about an article published in it.
The company alleged that an article published in the magazine, titled ‘Dirty For Ever’, misrepresented facts and damaged its reputation. UPL had also sought action against the NGO ‘Society for Environmental Communication’, which publishes the magazine.
Acting on the complaint, the Vapi court had issued a non-bailable warrant and also directed Ambedkarnagar police station of New Delhi to produce the accused on June 12.
Seeking quashing of the order, Narain’s advocate contended that in that alleged defamatory article they did not mention any company’s name.
“We have not published the names of any company. The complaint has been filed with malafide intention,” Advocate Bomi Sethna submitted before the Gujarat High Court today.
The petitioners further submitted that the Vapi based court erred in issuing the non bailable warrant against Narain and four of her colleagues.
“If the accused do not remain present (as per the court’s orders), then bailable warrant could be directed, but the trial court had directly issued a non-bailable warrant,” advocate Sethna said.