New Delhi: The Wire‘s petition seeking quashing of the criminal defamation case initiated against it by Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, will be heard by another bench of the Supreme Court, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said on Thursday.
Though the bench was not specified, the date of April 18 has been set for final arguments.
Jay Shah filed the criminal defamation case in October last year following the publication of a story in The Wire on his business affairs. He also filed a separate civil defamation suit seeking Rs 100 crore in damages from The Wire, its editors, its ombudsman – whose task is to address reader complaints post-publication – and the journalist who wrote the story, Rohini Singh.
The Wire is appealing the Gujarat high court’s refusal to quash the criminal proceedings.
An injunction granted to Shah by the civil court in Ahmedabad soon after the story’s publication was reversed by the same court but later reimposed by the Gujarat high court. The Wire has also sought to appeal that decision in the Supreme Court but the matter has yet to be listed.
Last month, when the criminal defamation matter was first taken up by his bench, Justice Misra had stayed the trial court proceedings and set April 12 as the next date of hearing. The other two judges on his bench are Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
But with the same judges also involved in the ongoing Aadhaar matter, the bench decided to send The Wire’s writ to an “appropriate bench”.
11 defamation cases against The Wire so far
Including the two cases – criminal and civil defamation – filed by Jay Amit Shah, The Wire is dealing at present with 10 cases of defamation. Six of those – three criminal defamation cases and three civil defamation cases seeking damages of Rs 100 crore each – have been filed by different companies of the Adani group. Two civil defamation cases have been filed by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar seeking damages of Rs 20 crore each for an article on his involvement with Republic TV and another on his membership of the parliamentary standing committee for defence. The total damages being claimed against The Wire add up to Rs 440 crore.
An eleventh case – of criminal defamation – was filed in a court in Mizoram by a company owned by Rajya Sabha MP and Zee Television owner Subhash Chandra, but later withdrawn after The Wire obtained a stay on the proceedings from the Gauhati high court.