NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has on November 3 ordered the Gujarat Police not to take any coercive steps against two journalists in relation to an article written by them on the Adani-Hindenburg row.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra issued notice to the Gujarat government on the pleas filed by journalists Ravi Nair and Anand Mangnale.
The court sought a response from the state government within three weeks.
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, and advocate Paras Nath Singh, appearing for the two journalists, submitted that the notice issued to them to appear before the police was completely without jurisdiction.
The counsel claimed that it is nothing but “pure and simple” harassment and a prelude to possible arrest.
Upon hearing the counsel, the bench also ordered, "Till the next date of hearing no coercive steps be taken against the petitioners."
Nair and Mangnale filed separate writ petitions, challenging the summons issued by the Ahmedabad crime branch asking them to appear for questioning in connection with preliminary enquiry into their article published on the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) website.
The petitioners got the notices in October from Ahmedabad’s crime branch, which directed them to appear in person in connection with the preliminary enquiry being conducted on the complaint by an investor Yogeshbhai Mafatlal Bhansali.
In their petition, the petitioners contended that the police have not handed over a copy of any complaint or disclosed the provision of law being invoked in the matter.
They also contended if the matter being investigated was under laws of defamation, then the Ahmedabad crime branch would not have any jurisdiction.
Adani Group stocks had taken a beating on the bourses after Hindenburg Research published a report January, this year making a litany of allegations, including of irregularities in accounting against the business conglomerate. The charges have been dismissed by the Adani Group as absolute lies and baseless.
A SC-appointed expert committee led by former judge, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, which inquired into the Adani-Hindenburg issue, had in May, this year, said there was no regulatory failure in relation to compliance with the regulatory stipulations governing minimum public shareholding stipulation. It also found no conclusive proof of price manipulations in Adani scrips.