Gujarat High Court refuses to involve in Adani defamation suit "Justice Arun Mishra's Final 'Gift' of Rs.8,000 crore to Adani" and "Have Justice Arun Mishra's Judgments helped Adani Group?" were included in the lawsuit against Newsclick. According to the Gujarat High Court, Adani Power was not entitled to interfere with the interim injunction that had been granted against Newsclick in favour...
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Gujarat High Court refuses to involve in Adani defamation suit
"Justice Arun Mishra's Final 'Gift' of Rs.8,000 crore to Adani" and "Have Justice Arun Mishra's Judgments helped Adani Group?" were included in the lawsuit against Newsclick.
According to the Gujarat High Court, Adani Power was not entitled to interfere with the interim injunction that had been granted against Newsclick in favour of Adani Power, preventing its publication of defamatory material against the company [Newsclick in Publisher of Article through Prabir Purkayastha v. Adani Power Rajasthan Limited].
This came about when two articles by Newsclick were published on their platform regarding the adjudication of Adani's disputes before the Supreme Court. The articles were entitled, "Justice Arun Mishra's Final Gift of Rs.8,000 crore to Adani" and "Have Justice Arun Mishra's Judgments helped Adani Group?"
Adani filed an injunction against the publication, asking that the articles be restricted from publication and circulation. The suit is claiming damages of Rs. 100 crore. Adani Power had been granted an interim injunction by the City Civil Court in Ahmedabad, in an order dated March 6, 2021.
The trial court's view was reasonable based on the facts and circumstances of the case, according to Justice AP Thaker.
Adani's appeal was upheld because the tenor of both articles raised concerns about a possible contrived motive behind the Supreme Court's decision.
It is obvious from the tenor of the language used in the Articles that the trial Court made an accurate observation while granting the injunction against the defendant - the current appellant, as recorded in the order.
An appellate court in a case could not overturn an order solely based on the possibility of a different view, it was held.
As a media house, Newsclick owed a duty to the public to report on concerns of public significance, which was allegedly against the trial court order. The company moved the High Court to reverse the trial court decision.
The attorneys argued that the articles were published in good faith and for the greater good of the public and could not be considered defamatory against Adani or the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, the article was not false, since the information it used was based on publicly available data. Therefore, the article was not defamatory.
The matter is reportedly the subject of similar articles in various news outlets and tabloids across India which focused on the arbitrary order of the Supreme Court regarding the case and the passage of certain orders adversely affecting the overall functioning of the justice delivery system.
In their submission, Newsclick argued that the trial court did not consider Newsclick to be part of the fourth pillar of democracy and that limits on their right to free press violated the Constitution's fundamentals.
Advocates for Adani argued that High Court and Supreme Court judges are silent sufferers since they cannot make complaints publicly against any articles published or statements made about how they function.
Even if the analysis of a legal touchstone in a judgment is not deemed defamatory, attributing allegations of dishonesty to a particular judge was deemed defamation of the institution.
The Court carefully examined the trial court's order as well as the law governing the free exercise of speech after hearing from both parties. According to the Court, the public interest cannot be used to interfere with freedom of expression.
'Press exists to advance the public interest through the presentation of facts and opinion that democratic electors require to make an informed decision.'
In the order, the judge stated that the freedom of the press was not absolute because no democracy offers absolute and unrestrained freedom and the law of defamation effectively restricted press freedom.
A court of appeals noted there was universal acceptance of journalism's ethical obligations. Consequently, although the judge acknowledged that the media has a right to a fair analysis and publish the truth, the media were required to substantiate its claim primarily by producing evidence of its truthfulness.
In his opinion, Justice Thaker found that Newsclick had not argued a single fact regarding Adani's benefit of almost Rs. 8000 crores and had failed to place on record any details explaining how that figure had evolved.
This resulted in the appeal being dismissed.
It directed the trial court, before concluding its judgment, to expedite the hearing of the suit and to decide it within a specified period, preferably within four months.
Newsclick published an article about attorney Tarak Damani, Advocate Singhi and Senior Advocate Kamal Trivedi were Adani Power's counsel.