media issues

In highly unusual move, Bengaluru court orders The Wire to remove articles on Rajeev Chandrasekhar

The Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka has alleged that the articles were motivated by the Congress. The Wire has decided to challenge the court order.

The news website The Wire was on Monday forced to take down two articles following a court order in a defamation suit filed by Rajya Sabha Member Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Chandrasekhar is also the vice chairman of the National Democratic Alliance in Kerala, though he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka as an independent.

The Wire took down two articles that involved Chandrasekhar. The first, published on January 25, was a report by Sandeep Bhushan on the Republic TV, a news channel Chandrasekhar is set to launch in association with former Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.

The second, published on February 17, was an opinion piece by Sachin Rao on the alleged conflict of interest in Chandrasekhar being a member of the parliamentary committee on defence and investing in defence companies.

The Wire was served a notice dated March 3 by Chandrasekhar’s lawyer, informing the organisation about an ex parte injunction, which is an injunction passed without hearing the other side, issued by City Civil Court at Bengaluru, ordering the news website to block access to the two articles. The order was passed on March 2.

In a statement sent to Scroll.in on Tuesday, Chandrasekar said the articles were an attack from the Congress and media houses in nexus with the party.

“This court action is not about a take down, it is about holding those who did this accountable for their actions,” he added.

Responding to questions from Scroll.in, Siddharth Varadarajan, the editor of The Wire, said no prior notice was issued to The Wire before the civil defamation suit was filed in a Bengaluru court. The organisation got to know about the order through the notice sent by Chandrasekhar’s lawyer.

When asked about the court passing such a directive without hearing The Wire, Varadarajan said it was “highly unusual” for a court to issue an ex parte take down order, even if it was of temporary nature. The organisation has decided to challenge the injunction.

“If left unchallenged, it will open the door for similar efforts by politicians and other powerful people, and undermine media freedom,” he added.

Varadarajan said Chandrasekhar’s comment about a so-called nexus with the Congress was laughable. “I am tempted to call it ‘defamatory’ but I think ‘delusional’ may be a more accurate description.”

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