The Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday, rejected the Appeals challenging the ex-parte injunction rendered by Additional Senior Civil Judge B.K. Dasondi of Ahmedabad rural court against The Wire.
The impugned injunction was issued in respect of the article titled The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah published by The Wire on 8 October. The article had claimed that the company owned by Mr. Jay Shah saw a rise in its turnover after the BJP came to power in 2014.
Soon after the publication of the article, Civil Judge Dasondi had barred the news website from publishing any content “directly or indirectly” about Mr. Shah, son of Bharatiya Janata Party National President Mr. Amit Shah, till the defamation suit filed against the website is disposed of.
Two separate Appeals had then been filed before the High Court-- one by the author of the article Ms. Rohini Singh and another collectively by Founding Editors of the news portal Mr. Siddarth Varadarajan, Mr. Sidharth Bhatia and Mr. M.K. Venu, and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit company that publishes The Wire.
The Appellants had submitted that the impugned order was passed without issuing notice to them and that the circumstances did not warrant an ex-parte order.
Mr. Shah, on the other hand, had contended that the order, being an ex-parte interim order, should be challenged before the Trial Court and not before the High Court. He had, therefore, contended that the Appeals were not maintainable.
Justice Paresh Upadhyay agreed with Mr. Shah's contentions and observed, "On conjoint consideration of the above noted facts (vide para: 8.1 to 8.7) and the provisions of the Code, 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 also noted that the Appellants have neither appeared before the Trial Court nor filed any reply before it. It then ruled, "In the present case, it cannot be said that, there was no justification for the Trial Court for invoking proviso to Rule 3 of Order 39 of the Code. It is also evident that the defendants, against whom the impugned restrain order is passed are served with the complete set of paper book, along with the impugned order, within four days from the date of passing of the order. There is no motivation on the part of any of the defendants to contest the matter before the Trial Court. In this background, keeping in view the above noted proposition of law, this Court finds that these Appeals need not be entertained on merits."
The Court then dismissed the Appeals, leaving it open for The Wire team to approach the Trial Court for the relief.