Adani Power has opposed a plea by journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, seeking transfer of a criminal defamation suit filed by the company against him, from a court in Mundra, Gujarat, to Ahmedabad, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The company, which is an Adani Group subsidiary, has filed an affidavit in the case before the Gujarat High Court.
Thakurta, in his plea, had said that different companies under the Adani Group have filed several other civil suits against him, which were pending in Ahmedabad district. He also cited his ill health as a reason for seeking transfer of the case to Ahmedabad.
However, Adani Power, in its affidavit, submitted that the cause of action in the civil suits is entirely different from that in case of criminal defamation proceedings.
The current 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 Economic and Political Weekly 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 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.
Referring to Thakurta’s article in its affidavit, Adani Power said that the journalist had published a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the company’s Chairman Gautam Adani “making an imputation with a view to harm the reputation of the deponent [Adani Power]”, The Indian Express reported.
“...The defamatory article is available to be read everywhere in India and also outside India and globally, the same has also tarnished the image of the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Office and India as a whole,” the affidavit added.
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, but the case against Thakurta remained.
In January, 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 Mundra court had also issued a non-bailable warrant against Thakurta, observing that he had failed to be present in the court, despite being asked to do so several times, the last instance being in January 2020.
However, the Gujarat High Court suspended the warrant on January 28 after Thakurta challenged the Mundra court order.
The Adani Power affidavit also sought to refute Thakurta’s apprehension of not getting a fair trial. It stated that it would not be appropriate for higher courts “to transfer the cases from one court to another on the ground that a few adverse orders were passed against the party”, according to The Indian Express.