The story on news website The Wire about the alleged spike in revenues of the company owned by Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah’s son the year after Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014 is prima facie defamatory, the Gujarat High Court said on Monday.

The court said the journalists will have to face trial for criminal defamation, and rejected the website’s petition asking it to quash the case Jay Shah filed against it. The court said “the most disturbing part of the article” was that it linked the rise in the firm’s turnover with Narendra Modi becoming prime minister, The Indian Express reported.

The most disturbing part of the article, or to put it in other words, the imputation which could be termed as prima facie defamatory is the averment that the turnover of the company owned by the complainant, who happens to be the son of the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party increased 16,000 times over in the year following the election of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister and the elevation of his father to the post of the party president. 

— Justice J B Pardiwala

The judge said The Wire’s story implied that an “ordinary company, which had a meagre revenue of Rs 50,000 proceeded to accumulate revenue of Rs 80 crore in a single year only because of the political position of the father of the complainant”, The Times of India reported.

The judge said that “in a country like India”, people are quick to start thinking about how the “complainant has prospered only because of his political contacts”.

“People may even infer corrupt practice at the end of the complainant,” the judge said, adding that this is why the article published by the news website is being considered defamatory.