Leading liberal portal ‘The Wire’, has filed an appeal in Supreme Court to withdraw their appeal against the Gujarat High Court order in a defamation case filed by Jay Shah, son of union Home Minister Amit Shah. The apex court slammed the news portal for ‘Yellow Journalism’. The person who argued the news portal’s case in the court is none other than senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal. And that’s where things get really interesting.
Let’s start with the first episode.
Jay Shah had filed a complaint against Rohini Singh, founding editors of the news portal Siddharth Varadarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and M K Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta and public editor Pamela Philipose after the portal carried out a shoddy hitjob against him. According to The Wire’s report, Jay Shah’s firm, Temple Enterprise Private Ltd.’s turnover had increased 16,000 times in the year after Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister following which a defamation suit worth Rs 100 crore was filed by Jay Shah against The Wire.
The Wire then hired noted lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal as their legal counsel in the apex court.
Let’s move to the next episode.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, an English news channel, Harvest TV, was launched with senior Congress leader, Kapil Sibal as one of its promoters. The channel is owned by Veecon Media which already had licenses for several other media outlets. This media outlet saw the comeback of several high-profile journalists, including Barkha Dutt, Karan Thapar and Punya Prasun Bajpai. It was launched on the Republic Day this year and was being touted as the next big thing in Indian journalism. Later, Harvest TV was renamed as Tiranga TV, after the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) allowed Sibal’s channel to use the new name and logo without the colours, saffron and green.
Narendra Modi stormed back to power once again and the channel started packing up almost immediately. Tiranga TV laid off many employees and refused to provide them compensatory salaries too. As per some media reports, several journalists had left decent jobs before joining Tiranga TV but they were left in a spot of bother after being fired with an extra salary for just one month. It was also reported that the sacked journalists demanded that they should be paid at least three months extra salary given the market conditions. Reports about dictatorial methods of the management also surfaced.
Barkha Dutt, another prominent member of left-liberal media brigade and an ex-employee of the channel filed a complaint against Kapil Sibal’s wife Promila Sibal in the National Commission of Women in which she alleged that Promila Sibal abused female staff members including her. Barkha had tweeted alleging the same and had said, “Worst of all, @KapilSibal & wife have referred to female staffers as “Kutiya”or Bitch. This is a fit case for NCW @sharmarekha & we will place signed affidavits to prove our case.
Could you pl send me details on my email Chairpersonemail@example.com
— Rekha Sharma (@sharmarekha) July 15, 2019
And here we come to the interesting conclusion.
As per Barkha’s tweets and complaint, it is clear that Kapil Sibal meted out shoddy treatment to employees at his liberal media firm and threatened them of ‘dire consequences’ when they tried to raise their voice. The Wire however put aside the concerns of the sacked employees of its extended ecosystem and retained Sibal as the advocate in the case. The Wire has long been a flag bearer of free speech, worker rights and left-liberal narrative, and has never hesitated in taking up the ‘moral high ground’ on every conceivable issue under the Sun. It could have set an example by suspending Sibal. But it chose not to.