The Supreme Court on Monday asked Jay Shah and news website The Wire to consider settling a civil defamation case that the businessman had filed, Bar and Bench reported. Shah, who is the son of Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, had sought Rs 100 crore in damages from the website.
The court had made a similar suggestion in the criminal defamation case involving the two parties on April 18. It will next hear both the cases on July 9.
Jay Shah filed the defamation cases against The Wire in October 2017 after it published a story alleging that the revenues of his company grew massively within a year of the party coming to power in 2014.
The website moved the Supreme Court after the Gujarat High Court refused to quash the case. The High Court had said the report was prima facie defamatory and the journalists would have to face trial. On March 15, the Supreme Court issued an order restraining proceedings in the Gujarat magistrate court, and later extended it on April 12. Last week, the court extended the order till the next hearing.
The counsel for The Wire, Nithya Ramakrishnan, told the court that Jay Shah was seeking an apology but “there is no question” of it. The website was willing to carry any clarification that the businessman wants them to, she said.
To this, Justice DY Chandrachud told Shah’s counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul, “They are willing to carry any clarification you want. That is as fair as it can be.” A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and Chandrachud are hearing the petitions.
The court also clarified that it had never suggested that the website apologise to the businessman, and said the freedom of the press was too important a matter, according to The Wire. Chief Justice Misra said freedom of expression was vital and that he had “always deprecated restraints on the press”.