Sameeksha Trust, the charitable organisation that publishes the Economic and Political Weekly, on Thursday issued a statement explaining the circumstances that led to Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s resignation as the publication’s editor. The Trust said Guha Thakurta had started a legal process on behalf of the Trust without informing or obtaining approval from the journal’s management and falsely began the legal reply with a statement that “it was at the instruction of the Sameeksha Trust”.
Guha Thakurta had on Tuesday stepped down from his position, after differences emerged with the journal’s management over an article he had co-authored about an Adani group company.
Following the publication of the article, Adani Power had sent a legal notice to the Economic and Political Weekly, to which the had organisation replied.
Here is the full text of the statement.
“A legal notice was served on the Sameeksha Trust, the editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and his co-authors, in connection with an article published in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW). Mr Guha Thakurta initiated a legal process ostensibly on behalf of the Sameeksha Trust without informing, let alone obtaining approval of, the Trust although such a decision was not in the domain of the Editor to make.
The legal reply (sent on the instruction of Mr Guha Thakurta) falsely began with a statement that it was at the instruction of the Sameeksha Trust. This reply and the legal notice were placed on the EPW website, even before the Chairman and Managing Trustee were informed, so that the Trustees were completely unaware of these developments.
On hearing about the matter, a special meeting of the Sameeksha Trust was convened on 18 July 2017 to discuss issues arising. After discussion, it was conveyed to Mr Guha Thakurta that he had committed a grave impropriety amounting to a breach of trust, in taking a unilateral decision on a matter where any decision could be taken only by the Sameeksha Trust as the governing board. Thereupon, Mr Guha Thakurta submitted his resignation. It was accepted by the Trustees after due deliberation.
The EPW is a unique institution which has earned its reputation as an independent, impartial journal over five decades, for publishing scholarly articles – research-based academic writing and evidence-based public policy critiques - and providing incisive analysis together with independent commentary on the issues of the time.
These are its unique attributes. There is no question of the Sameeksha Trust, an independent non-partisan institution, bowing to external pressures of any kind. It never has. It is guided solely by the objectives of maintaining the ethos, quality and standards of EPW, while ensuring spotless propriety and ethics in the working of its staff.
Statement does not give the full picture of what transpired: Guha Thakurta
However, Guha said the statement about the July 18 special meeting he had with the trustees of the Sameeksha Trust does not give the full picture of what transpired. He said he had acknowledged his lapse of judgement and had even apologised to the Trust after it had come to light.
“To set the record in context, I wish to state the interaction between the trustees and me went beyond what I consider a procedural lapse on my part in failing to seek the prior consent and approval of the trust before engaging the services of a lawyer to respond to a notice that were served upon me and my co-authors,” he said.
Guha Thakurta said that the trustees wanted to appoint a co-editor, and wrote in formal terms what the roles and duties of the editor would be. “And they ordered that the Adani articles be removed from the website immediately”, he said.
“I also told them that I stand by the factual accuracy of every single sentence in the articles, that I have all the documents to back everything up and that it is a settled principle in any civil or criminal defamation case that truth is a valid defence.”