The Supreme Court on Monday again asked BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay Shah to settle his defamation suit with The Wire even as the news portal said a firm no to an apology but agreed to carry a clarification.
"This is a matter which can be solved" instead of coming to the court, said a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud as the court took up for hearing the plea against a civil suit filed by Jay Shah against the news portal.
Making it clear that the court will not suffocate the freedom of press, Chief Justice Misra said: "I believe in freedom of press. I don't restrain the media. The court cannot be seen as gagging the press."
As senior counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Jay Shah, complained about an alleged slant given by the news portal to a story regarding Jay Shah's company's revenue, Chief Justice Misra questioned him: "Are you responding to my learned brother's (Justice Chandrachud) statement on settling the matter?"
"You are in public life. There are pros and cons... they will put a little bit of slant and masala...," Justice Chandrachud said.
Drawing court attention towards photographs and alleged innuendos that the "moment a particular person comes to power, becomes the Prime Minister, his fortunes soar", Kaul said that Amit Shah's son was not in public life.
The news portal's counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan ruled out an apology but said the clarifications they want are already there. However, she left the courtroom for considering further clarifications.
At this, Justice Chandrachud observed: "They are willing to carry any clarification you want. That is as fair as it can be."
The Foundation for Independent Journalism, which owns the news portal, has moved the top court against Jay Shah who has filed a civil suit to seek damages of Rs 100 crore.
Earlier, the Gujarat High Court declined to quash the case.
On April 18, while hearing the news portal's plea against criminal defamation, the apex court had asked both parties to settle the matter amicably.
On Monday, the court said that both the cases involving criminal defamation and civil defamation would be taken up on July 9.
During a hearing on March 15, the top court put on hold the proceedings before a magisterial court. The stay was extended on April 12 with a further extension on April 18 till July 9.
The defamation case is rooted in an article by journalist Rohini Singh on Jay Shah's company, which claimed that the firm's turnover grew exponentially after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government came to power at the Centre in 2014.