Jay Shah defamation case: Gag order on the Wire set aside by Ahmedabad court

On December 23rd, an Ahmedabad Court set aside the gag order imposed on publication of an article in the Wire, titled “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah”, which pointed out a dramatic increase in the wealth of Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah, following the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister in 2014. The article indicated that the turnover of his company saw a 16,000 time increase over the year following the election.

In October, 2017, soon after the article was published, a defamation suit was filed by Jay Shah against the news portal. Following this the Ahmedabad civil court imposed a gag order barring the Wire from publishing any content “directly or indirectly” related to Jay Shah or his Temple Enterprises. The Wire had filed a petition against the injunction, arguing that it “represented an unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of the press”, and that the article mentioned “nothing defamatory” as it was based entirely on public records.

In November, the Gujarat High Court rejected a plea filed by the Wire against the gag order and directed them to approach the Ahmedabad civil court that issued the order. The Ahmedabad civil court reserved its verdict in the matter on December 17th.

The Court released a 26-page order which noted the duty of the press to narrate a clear picture of the facts, and stated that since the defendants published article on the basis of facts available in the public domain, it could be said to be enshrined within Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court therefore, permitted the Wire to publish content on the business and public activities of Jay Shah. The only restriction that was imposed was on the use of the words, “Narendra Modi becoming prime minister/elected prime minister.”