Supreme Court asks Jay Shah, web portal to try to settle defamation case

The Supreme Court today asked Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah and ‘The Wire’ and its scribes, to try to amicably settle the criminal defamation case lodged by the former against the news portal and others.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also extended its interim order that had asked the Gujarat trial court not to proceed with the defamation case against the portal and its journalists, including Rohini Singh who had authored the story which was alleged to be defamatory in nature.

“Without opening the file, we want to ask senior counsel of both sides to sit together and try to sort it out,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

“Let these matters be listed in the first week of July for final disposal. Interim order to continue, in the meantime,” the bench recorded in its order.

On April 12, the CJI-led bench had said it did not have time to hear and decide the case and ordered its listing before an appropriate bench for final disposal. However, the case was again listed today before the bench led by the CJI.

Shah had moved the lower court alleging defamation by the petitioners after the article published by the website claimed his company’s turnover grew exponentially after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.

The complaint was filed against Rohini Singh, the author, founding editors of the news portal Siddharth Varadarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and M K Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta, public editor Pamela Philipose and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, which publishes The Wire.

The matter travelled to the apex court after the local court and the Gujarat High Court refused to quash the defamation complaint.

Earlier, the court had heard the pleas filed by news portal ‘The Wire’ and some of its scribes against the Gujarat High Court order and also asked the Gujarat trial court not to proceed with the complaint till April 12. Today, the interim order was extended.

The high court had on January 8 rejected a plea filed by the portal, seeking quashing of the defamation complaint filed against it by Jay over an article related to his company.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for the portal and the scribes, had said that the article contained details from records which were in “public domain electronically”.

Jay has separately filed a civil defamation suit of Rs 100 crore against the website over the article. He also rejected the charges made in the article, insisting that the story was “false, derogatory and defamatory”.

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