The Editors Guild of India and the DIGIPUB News India Foundation have both condemned the arrest warrant issued by a Kutch court for journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in connection with a criminal defamation case against him by the Adani Group.
The Editors Guild, a longstanding association of editorial leaders from across the news media has slammed the way in which a corporate house is using the legal system to target an independent journalist who has been critical of them.
"“The issue of a non-bailable warrant by a lower court against Mr. Thakurta is another example of how intolerant the business houses have become to any criticism. Routinely they have targeted independent and intrepid journalists by using the very instruments that provide media the necessary protection.”"
The criminal defamation case relates to an article by Guha Thakurta and other authors in 2017 about how the Adani Group had obtained a “Rs 500 crore bonanza” because of certain changes to government rules. The article was originally published in the journal Economic and Political Weekly, but after they took it down, it was republished by The Wire.
DIGIPUB, a recently formed association of digital-only news publications, notes that the Adani Group has been pursuing this matter against Guha Thakurta “relentlessly” – the corporate group had even withdrawn its complaints against The Wire and the editor of the article, but not against the veteran journalist.
"“The article is a piece of journalism and cases being filed against Thakurta for it undermines the right to freedom of expression that’s guaranteed to journalists – and indeed every citizen – by India’s constitution. DIGIPUB News India Foundation strongly believes that any attempt to suppress or punish critical journalism by governments or corporations is detrimental to not only the freedom of the press but also the very idea of democratic accountability.”" - DIGIPUB’s statement
Both organisations have urged the Adani group to withdraw the criminal case against Guha Thakurta.
The Editors Guild also goes on to urge the higher judiciary to take notice of this kind of abuse of the criminal defamation law to impede freedom of speech, “and issue guidelines to ensure that wanton use of such laws does not serve as a deterrent to a free press.”
DIGIPUB notes that the need of the hour is “strengthen, not assault press freedom” at a time like this, when democratic values are under attack around the world.
You can read both statements in full below:
DIGIPUB News India Foundation condemns arrest warrant against journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. pic.twitter.com/CbQOLmGoV4
— DIGIPUB News India Foundation (@DigipubIndia) January 20, 2021
The Editors Guild of India has issued a statement on the arrest warrant against senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, issued by a lower court in Gujarat in a criminal defamation case filed by the Adani group in 2017. pic.twitter.com/nF08koHs2h
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) January 21, 2021
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