The Supreme Court on Thursday extended its order asking a court in Gujarat not to initiate criminal defamation proceedings against news website The Wire and its journalist Rohini Singh in the Jay Shah defamation case till April 18. The bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, transferred the case to a different bench citing lack of time.
The court had on March 15 issued a similar order restraining proceedings in the Gujarat magistrate court. It had said it would hear a petition by the website to get the case quashed on April 12.
Jay Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah’s son, had filed the criminal defamation case against The Wire in October 2017 after it published a story alleging that the revenues of his company grew massively the year after the party came to power in 2014.
The website then moved the Gujarat High Court to get the case quashed, but the court refused to do so in January. The High Court said the report was prima facie defamatory and the journalists would have to face trial. Journalist Rohini Singh, who wrote the article, the website’s founding editors, public editor and managing editor – all accused in the case – had filed the petition.
The website’s lawyer Kapil Sibal told the court that The Wire’s story was only “asking questions”. “If journalism is going to be throttled like this, no journalist can ask questions,” he had said.