Monday, February 26, 2024

Supreme Court extends interim protection granted to 4 journalists from Gujarat Police action over article against Adani Group

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In a big relief for the four journalists who came under the scanner of Gujarat Police for their article against Adani Group, the Supreme Court has extended the interim protection granted to them from coercive action by the state’s police. The apex court has also granted Gujarat a week to file its response. 

A bench comprising of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra had granted journalists Ravi Nair and Anand Mangnale interim protection from arrest by the Gujarat Police on November 3.  The police had summoned them on a complaint against an article published in the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) website on Adani-Hindenburg row. 

In the same matter, the aforesaid bench also granted interim protection to two journalists from Financial Times, Benjamin Nicholas Brooke Parkin and Chloe Nina Cornish who had been summoned by the police for an article in August. 

On Friday, the matter came up before Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Sanjay Karol, Sr Anand Grover appearing for the OCCRP journalist told the apex court that since notice was issued by a bench headed by Justice Gavai, the matter should be heard by the same bench according to the Supreme Court rules. 

Appearing for the State of Gujarat, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded that he does not want to choose any bench and that he is before the Supreme Court of India. Notably, the matter has been posted a week after Senior Advocate Siddharth Agarwal appeared for the FT correspondent.

A few months ago, journalist Ravi Nair and OCCRP editor Anand Mangnale had come under the Gujarat police’s scanner for a critical article they co-authored along with NBR Arcadio entitled, documents provide fresh insight into allegations of stock manipulation that rocked India’s powerful Adani group. In October, both the journalists received notices from Ahmedabad’s crime branch asking them to appear in person in connection with a preliminary inquiry being conducted on the strength of an application by an investor, Yogeshbhai Mafatlal Bhansali.

An another plea had been lodged by FT’s Delhi Correspondent Benjamin Nicholas Brooke Parkin and its Mumbai Correspondent, Chloe Nina Cornish, who were summoned by the Gujarat Police for an initial enquiry on a complaint filed by an investor in Adani group companies for an article published by the Financial Times titled, Secret Paper Trail Reveals Hidden Adani Investors. Nonetheless, the petitioners were not the ones who wrote the said report. Meanwhile, granting interim protection to the FT correspondents, the bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra had also asked them to cooperate with the investigation.

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