Leftist propaganda website The Wire and journalist Rohini Singh have decided to face trial in a defamation case filed by Jay Shah, son of Home Minister Amit Shah. The Wire and Rohini Singh requested the Supreme Court to withdraw their petition seeking to quash the criminal defamation case against them, which was accepted by the court. However, the Supreme Court bench made some scathing comments against The Wire, which was being represented by senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
The Supreme Court pulled up The Wire for being in a hurry to publish their story on Jay Shah and said that it was ‘nothing short of yellow journalism’.
The Supreme Court bench that comprised of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai was particularly upset that The Wire had given only a seven hour-window to Jay Shah to respond to the questionnaire sent by The Wire before going public with the allegations that the portal made against Jay Shah.
The Bench further said, “This institution has suffered a lot for this. We are worried as judges of this court as we have suffered. What is this kind of journalism that has developed in our country? After all, we are a civilised country. Do you give notice to anybody and ask him to respond within 10 hours and before a response can come, the allegation is made public.”
The SC bench was probably referring to allegations made against the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. On May 6, CJI had received a clean chit from the apex court’s In-House Inquiry Committee comprising Justice S A Bobde, Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee had rejected the allegations and had stated it “found no substance” in the claims against him. The apex court had expressed its disappointment over the “systematic attack” on the judiciary and had observed that it was time to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they are “playing with fire.”
Continuing with its comments against The Wire, the SC bench also said that often, such cases are withdrawn and the people are kept in the dark about the truth because of it.
“It is easy to make allegations and malign anyone as the damage is already done, this is nothing short of yellow journalism…Freedom of the press is supreme but it cannot be one-way traffic”, the Bench said.
“The way in which short notice is given for a person to explain failing which he/she is maligned, this threatening should not be given before a matter gets published. We have kept the question open to be considered in a later case”, added the Bench.
Interestingly, the bench also observed that the notice was given by ‘The Wire’ and within 12 hours of the notice before the response and explanation of Jay Shah, he was maligned by the publication. By the comments, it was evident that the Apex Court did not want to part with the case by accepting The Wire’s petition to withdraw.
After these scathing comments by the Apex court, Congress leader Kapil Sibal who was representing The Wire said that these comments would surely mean that his client would get convicted. The Bench, after this, added that the comments made in this regard will not affect the outcome of the case during trial.
While concluding the hearing, Justice Mishra said: “We want to say many things but we won’t say it”. Senior Congress lawyer Kapil Sibal, who is representing The Wire replied: “I also want to say many things but won’t say so.”
The case relates to an article written by Rohini Singh and published by The Wire alleging impropriety in business dealings of Jay Shah. Their article, which was riddled with glaring loopholes and inaccuracy, was decimated by us. Subsequently, The Wire had selectively altered its story, but the shaky ground on which the story stood remained as it was.
In response to the shoddy story, Jay Shah had slapped ‘The Wire’ with a ₹100 crore defamation case against them in a Gujarat court. Subsequently, the Gujarat High Court had issued a gag order on The Wire, preventing it from publishing anything on the matter. The High Court had observed that Jay Shah has a prima facie case against the publication.
After the Gujarat High Court had rejected a petition by The Wire to dismiss the defamation against them, they had approached the Supreme Court requesting the same. The apex court had stayed the defamation proceedings in the trial court while it heard the plea. But during a hearing on the plea at the Supreme Court, the publication decided to change track and requested to withdraw the petition, saying they will face the trial in the criminal defamation case.