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Gujarat High Court rejects The Wire’s appeal in Jay Shah Case [Read Order]

A single bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising of Justice Paresh Upadhyay, on Wednesday, 28th November, rejected appeal filed by Rohini Singh and Foundation for Independent Journalism [A section 8 company under the Companies Act, 2013 which publishes The Wire] that challenged a gag order passed by a lower court in a civil defamation case filed by BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah over an article published by the news portal.

The petition had been filed against the ex-parte injunction rendered by Additional Senior Civil Judge B. K. Dasondi of Ahmedabad Court against the news website. The Civil Court had barred the news website from publishing any content “directly or indirectly” about Jay Shah, till the defamation suit filed against the website is disposed of. The petitioners had sought that this interim order of the trial court be quashed and set aside as it was passed without issuing notices to the defendants, and claimed the facts did not warrant an ex-parte order.

Justice Paresh Upadhyay observed,

On conjoint consideration of the above noted facts (vide para: 8.1 to 8.7) and the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, this Court finds that, the immediate remedy available to the present appellants, under the provisions of Order 39, Rule 4 of the Code, which enabled them to approach the Trial Court to modify and/or vacate the ex parte ad-interim impugned restrain order dated 12.10.2017, is not only not availed by any of them, there is reluctance on their part, even to put their contest, on merits, before the Trial Court.

The Court further said,

The above needs to be viewed keeping in view the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the case of A. Venkatasubbiah Naidu vs. S. Chellappan. As per the mandate in the said judgment (vide Para:21), under the normal circumstances the aggrieved party can prefer an appeal only against an order passed under Rules 1, 2, 2A, 4 or 10 of Order 39 of the Code in terms of Order 43 Rule 1 of the Code. He can not approach the appellate or revisional court during the pendency of the application for grant or vacation of temporary injunction.

The Single Bench, while rejecting the petition asked the petitioners to move the trial court to challenge the gag order and further directed the trial court to decide the matter within 30 days.

These appeals arising from an ex-parte ad-interim impugned order of the trial court are not entertained. It would be open to the defendants to file their counter to the suit, or at least to the application for interim injunction before the trial court, if they so choose,” the High Court said. The High Court further added that if any of the parties felt aggrieved by the final order that may be passed by the trial court on the injunction application, it would be open to him or her to challenge it before an appropriate forum in accordance with law.

On October 8th ‘The Wire’ had published an article titled “The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah” which had alleged that the company owned by Jay Shah saw a rise in its turnover 16,000 times in one year after the BJP came to power. The annual turnover increased from Rs 80,000 to about Rs 80 crore.

Jay Shah had, therefore, filed a defamation suit alleging that The Wire had defamed him and lowered his reputation in all respect thereby violating his right to reputation and right to privacy and causing irreparable damage, harm and injury to his reputation and invading his privacy. He had also claimed damages of Rs.100,00,00,000/- from the news portal.

Senior Advocate Mihir Joshi and Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan appeared for The Wire, the appellants. Senior Advocate N D Nanavati and Advocate Siddharth Dave appeared for Jay Shah.

Read the Order below:


Gujarat High Court image by Lsdjfhkjsb (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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