November 26, 2018:
On Monday, Media portal ‘The Wire’ has been sued by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group after it conducted a video discussion on the Rafale deal.
MK Venu, founder-editor of The Wire, tweeted: “The Wire just got a fresh ₹.6000 cr civil suit from ADAG group for doing a video discussion on Rafale, largely raising questions on govt non-transparency in the deal. We now have several civil/criminal suits from the likes of Adani & Anil Ambani on questions asked of the govt!”
MK Venu said, “We are not targeting any organisation – Ambani or Adani. We are just asking questions of the govt: Why are they being so generous to specific organisations? Where is the public money going?”
He added.”These suits are nothing but harassment. They are the classic cases of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation ).”
Venu said,”Ever since two months ago when the controversy about Rafale came into the limelight, they have been trying to silence the press. We are doing this in public interest… we will continue to fight.”
Since October, Anil Ambani’s Reliance ADAG Group has sent defamation notices to media houses, opposition leaders, and others after the controversy over the Rafale deal erupted.
As far as the amount of damages claimed is concerned, news channel NDTV tops the list, with a ₹10,000-crore defamation suit after it aired a programme on Rafale. The Citizen comes second with a defamation suit of ₹ 7,000 crore filed against its founder-editor Seema Mustafa. The National Herald and AAP’s Sanjay Singh have been sued for ₹ 5,000 crore each.
With the amount of damages claimed in 11 cases adding up to ₹ 65,000 crore, The Telegraph has called this “the largest defamation blitz in recent memory in the country.”
On 25 Nov, Scroll reported about additional damages of ₹ 15,500 crore in five other cases, which takes the amount of damages claimed in 16 cases to₹ 80,500 crore. The defendants range from media organisations to individual journalists and political opponents.
The international media has not been spared either, with suits slapped against organisations such as Bloomberg & the Financial Times, among others.
This is not the first defamation case against The Wire. BJP President Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah, had filed a suit against the news website, which was later stayed by the Supreme Court. The news website had also faced defamation charges filed by the Adani Group for an article published last year.
The Reliance Group has filed three cases against The Wire.