An arrest warrant has been issued by a Gujarat court against journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in relation to a defamation case filed against him by the Adani Group. The warrant was issued by the court in Kutch district on Tuesday. As reported in Live Law, Judicial Magistrate Pradeep Soni passed an order directing the Nizamuddin police station in Delhi to arrest Thakurta who is charged under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code and to produce him before the court.
Thakurta reportedly expressed ignorance about the order and directed queries to his lawyer Anand Yagnik. Yagnik said that his client did not receive any information from the court and that they came to know about this from media. He told that Adani Group had withdrawn complaints against everyone except Thakurta. “The magazine (which published the article) is not responsible (for criminal defamation), the case against co-author has been withdrawn but you don’t withdraw the complaint against the author. We have moved a discharge application”, said Yagnik.
Thakurta alleged in the article that Modi government ‘tweaked rules’ for the benefit of the Adani Group
The defamation suit was filed by Adani Group against Thakurta for an article co-authored by him June 2017 when he was the Editor of Economical and Political Weekly (EPW). In the article, Thakurta reportedly alleged that Modi government tweaked special economic zone rules that provided a benefit to Adani group to the tunes of Rs 500 crore. The article was first published in EPW, however, it was later taken down by Sameeksha Trust that runs EPW after Adani group sent legal notice to publications asking them to take down the article claiming it to be defamatory. Thakurta had then resigned from EPW and had later published the article in The Wire.
The Adani Group filed a case against the Wire for republishing the article
Refusing to comply with the notice, the Wire republished the article following which Adani group moved court seeking injunction. The group filed two defamation suits against the authors and editors of the Wire in two different courts in Gujarat: a civil defamation suit in Bhuj and a criminal defamation suit in Mundra.
In July 2018, the criminal defamation suit was set aside by the court. In May 2019, the Adani Group withdrew the case against the Wire and all other accused except Thakurta.
Thakurta was reportedly required to appear before the magistrate when the courts opened on 18 January. His lawyer had informed that they had appealed for Thakurta to be exempt from personal appearance but the court did not agree to it. As per the Live Law report, the court said that then case has been continuing since 2017 and since Thakurta had appeared through 2019, he can personally appear even now.
Leftist portal The Wire, which had carried Thakurta’s article, has issued a statement claiming that the article was not defamatory and they are dismayed to see that the defamation suits against Thakurta have not been withdrawn.