The Supreme Court on Friday granted protection from arrest to two journalists of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project who had been summoned by the Gujarat Police in connection with their report on alleged stock manipulation by the Adani Group, Bar and Bench reported.
The report by journalists Ravi Nair and Anand Mangnale, published on August 31, alleged that two investors who pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the Adani Group through offshore funds have close ties to the conglomerate’s promoters. The report raised questions about the possible violation of Indian stock market rules.
The Gujarat Police’s Ahmedabad Crime Branch sent summons to Nair in connection with the article on October 16 and to Mangnale on October 25. The summons pertained to a preliminary inquiry into the article based on the complaint by an investor.
Following these summons, the two journalists moved the Supreme Court saying that they had followed due diligence in their reporting.
The two journalists also questioned the credibility of the investor who had complained, Bar and Bench reported. Their plea contended that according to publicly available information, the complainant had earlier been barred from participating in the stock market by the Securities and Exchange Board of India in 2009 for three years.
On Friday, the Supreme Court asked the petitioners why they had approached the top court directly, according to Live Law.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing Nair and Mangnale, responded that the notice issued to them was “completely without jurisdiction” and the journalists cannot be taken to that place. Jaising also questioned by what authority had the Gujarat Police issued the notices.
The two were not informed of the legal provisions invoked to issue the notices and it was also not clarified whether a first information report was pending against them in connection with the notices, Live Law quoted Jaising as having argued.
“This is nothing but pure and simple harassment and a prelude to a possible arrest,” Jaising told the court. “There is no authority to summon them and these summons are a violation of their rights under Article 21 [protection of life and personal liberty] of the Constitution.”
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and PK Mishra sought the Gujarat Police’s response. It also asked the police not to take any coercive step against the journalists.