Friday, June 14, 2024

Adani Group may face challenges against Hindenburg in US courts

With reports that the Adani Group has hired US law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz to contest claims made against it by US short-seller Hindenburg Research, the Group will have to face the challenges intrinsic to the US legal system which are unlike the Indian legal apparatus.

The Group is said to have haemorrhaged Rs 9,000 lakh crore in the market bloodbath after the Hindenburg report. Hindenburg Research had alleged the Group had taken substantial loans by pledging shares at inflated prices. Opposition parties have charged that investors are losing money because of the substantial exposure the Life Insurance Corporation and the State Bank of India have in the billionaire Gautam Adani-led Group.  

India Legal magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Inderjit Badhwar, who’s worked in the USA for some 20-odd years and has faced four libel suits himself, details the differences between the judicial system in India and in the US with regards to defamation laws and investigative journalism.

Badhwar said investigative journalism involves the pursuit of news stories with the public interest in mind. Investigative journalists, as is well-known, sift through mountains of research to get solid data on which to build their stories which can make or break a politician or a business house.

Badhwar said investigative journalism is a risky affair, but in the end one is proved right. He added nowadays investigative journalists in India are the ones trolled and abused or a case is filed against them.

Delving on defamation in America, the meaning of defamation there is verbal. If you are publishing a report against someone, then the party can file a libel suit against you. Badhwar said when something is said, written or alleged against a person which is intended to cause harm and is with malice, then such cases come under the ambit of defamation. In the US, there is a different process for defamation lawsuits against public figures. It does not come under the legal process. But an apology can be sought in this or a penalty can be imposed against you.

He recalled that when he was working for a leading US daily, he had about four defamation cases filed against him. Badhwar said he apologised in one case and added that US laws protect the reporter. According to US law, you can practice investigative journalism based on facts and will not be punished for that.

He noted this is precisely the reason why Hindenburg is also challenging Adani Group to come to the US and file a case, because Hindenburg knows there are legal provisions under which he can evade defamation charges.

Hindenburg himself has two such verdicts in the US in his favour on the basis of which it is rather difficult to take on Hindenburg in court.


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