The Gujarat High Court on Thursday suspended the non-bailable arrest warrant issued by a court in the state’s Mundra city against journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, in relation to a 2017 defamation case filed by the Adani Group. The High Court asked Thakurta to appear before the magistrate’s court in Mundra for the next hearing, the journalist’s lawyer Advocate Anand Yagnik told Scroll.in.
Earlier this month, the Mundra court had charged Thakurta under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with defamation, and directed the Nizamuddin police station in Delhi to produce the journalist before it.
The warrant was issued as the Mundra court observed that Thakurta failed to be present in the court, despite being asked to do so several times, the last instance being in January 2020. However, speaking to Scroll.in earlier, Yagnik had said that this was only the “second effective hearing” after the resumption of physical courts following closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The case pertains to two articles about the Adani Group, that were first published in the Economic and Political Weekly and then in The Wire. The articles alleged that the Centre had amended Special Economic Zone rules to facilitate duty reimbursements for raw materials to Adani Power Limited, leading to a benefit of Rs 500 crores. The Adani Group sent a legal notice to the publications, asking them to take down the articles, claiming they were defamatory. The EPW took them down, which led Thakurta to resign as editor.
After The Wire refused to comply with the notice, the Adani Group went to court applying for an injunction. It also filed two cases against the authors and the editors of The Wire in two different courts in Gujarat: a civil defamation suit in Bhuj and a criminal defamation case in Mundra.
In 2018, the Principal Senior Civil Judge of Bhuj turned down the injunction request in the civil defamation suit.
In May 2019, the Adani Group withdrew the case against The Wire and all other parties, however the case against Thakurta remained.