SC jibe at TV jounalists in Jay Shah defamation case

Jay Shah Case Supreme Court Asks Gujarat Court Not To Proceed With Defamation Case Against'The Wire

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Gujarat trial court not to proceed with criminal defamation proceedings against news portal The Wire in a case filed by Jay Shah till it hears the matter related to the quashing of the case next on April 12.

The story published by The Wire was a manufactured story and "an example of irresponsible journalism", he said, adding that the reasoned and detailed order of the trial court and the Gujarat High Court, which even quoted the apex court verdicts, should not be stayed.

The bench, also comprising justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, observed that the media should be more responsible and said it can not write whatever it feels about anyone.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Shah, vehemently countered Sibal saying they say that facts are in public domain, but was it permissible to "selectively" use the information and lace them with innuendos. The oral observations from the Chief Justice began when senior advocate Kapil Sibal said defamation proceedings and gag orders cannot be used to "throttle journalism" To this, Chief Justice asked whether Sibal was contending whether "they (journalists) can write whatever they want?"

The top judge said some of what the media put out amounted to "sheer contempt of court".

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According to The Wire report dated 8 October 2017, titled The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah, the turnover of BJP president's son's firm had increased 16,000 times in the year after Narendra Modi was elected as the prime minister.

In a direct criticism of the press, the Chief Justice said: "They [the journalists] are sitting on some kind of pulpit. that is not real journalism". "I have myself rebuffed all attempts to gag the media, but we do expect media, especially electronic media, to become more responsible", the CJI observed. "Whatever suits your imagination can you write anything and get away?" What they write sometimes is sheer contempt of court. We are not going to gag the media.The question of gagging the media does not arise.

The Gujarat Court in January had refused to quash the suit on the news portal's plea.

In its story, The Wire had alleged that the turnover of Jay Shah's company Temple Enterprise grew exponentially after the BJP-led NDA government came to power in 2014. Whether the Founding Editors are liable to be charged with defamation, the court also sought to know.

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