The Supreme Court has stayed the trial against journalists in the Jay Shah defamation case. The court directed the trial court not to proceed against the journalists till April 12.
The journalists had challenged the verdict of the Gujarat High Court which had refused to stay or quash proceedings in the defamation case.
During the hearing, Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra came down heavily on journalists who write what they think against anyone without basing it on facts.
The court asked if anyone can reproduce something in the official domain and adding something defamatory to it? Are innuendos in the realm of defence or realm of freedom? Whether the Founding Editors are liable to be charged with defamation, the court also sought to know.
The SC had some particularly harsh words for the television media. They must be more responsible. We do not want to name the channels, but some people think they are popes sitting on a pulpit and can pass judgments or deliver a sermon. That is not journalism, the court also said.
Appearing for the journalists, senior counsel, Kapil Sibal said that if a journalist asks how an Rs 18 lakh turnover turned into 80 core and he has to face prosecution, then it is the end of journalism.
Neeraj Kishan Kaul appearing for Jay Shah said freedom of speech for journalists do not give them the licence to selectively quote figures, lace it with innuendo to target a person because he is related to a political figure.
The challenge in the SC came after the Gujarat High Court rejected petitions filed by The Wire seeking to quash of a criminal defamation case lodged against it by Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah.
The court held that there is a prima facie case against Wire's reporter and editors. The court held that "the most disturbing part of the article", which can be "prima facie termed as defamatory", is linking the rise in Jay's firm's turnover with the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.