DUJ Condemns Arrest Warrant for Journalist Paranjoy
The Delhi Union of Journalists expresses its shock at reports that a Kutch court has issued an arrest warrant for veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. The arrest has been ordered for alleged defamation of the Adani group in an article published in 2017.
In a joint statement President Mr.S.K.Pande and General Secretary Sujata Madhok have condemned the arrest warrant. The statement said: “Ironically, the Adani group has withdrawn its charges against the publishers of the article and the co-authors but not Guha Thakurta. In 2017 the article that stirred controversy was published by the Economic & Political Weekly (EPW). It alleged that the government of India had tweaked rules of the Special Economic Zone to enable Adani Power Limited to get duty drawback of Rs 500 crore from the government. The Adani group sent a notice to the publisher, threatening legal action. The EPW’s publisher, the Sameeksha Trust, pulled down the article and its editor Guha Thakurta resigned in protest.
In June 2017 the Wire republished the article, with permission from EPW. The Adani group then filed a SLAPP suit on the Wire and the co-authors of the article Guha Thakurta, Abir Dasgupta, Advait Rao Palepu and Shinzani Jain. In May 2019 a Gujarat court ordered the publishers to remove one sentence and one word from the article. The Wire complied and the defamation suit was rejected by the court. Subsequently the Adani group withdrew the case against the Wire and the authors. In the circumstances it is strange that another court should have ordered the arrest of Guha Thakurta.
The Delhi Union of Journalists severely condemns the move to arrest a leading journalist. We have long demanded decriminalisation of the defamation law that is a serious threat to media freedoms. We urge the higher judiciary to strike down the criminal defamation law at the earliest.”