Indian media outlet The Wire denies offering ‘apology’ for alleged defamation case against Home Minister’s son

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

Multiple Facebook and Twitter posts have shared a text message in Hindi that claims Indian news website The Wire has tendered an “apology” after “losing a defamation case against Jay Shah”, son of the minister of Home Affairs, in the Supreme Court. The claim is false; The Wire denied offering the alleged apology and told AFP the trial in the defamation case has not yet started.

The text message was shared here on Facebook on March 19, 2021.

Screenshot of video posted in misleading Facebook post taken and crossed by AFP on March 23, 2021

The Hindi-text translates to English as: “The Wire has offered to apologise for labelling false allegations against Amit Shahji’s son and losing the case in the Supreme Court.”

The Wire is an Indian news and current affairs website facing a defamation case following this story by journalist Rohini Singh about revenues of a company owned by Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah in October 2017.

The Wire withdrew its two petitions for the quashing of a billion-rupee defamation case, saying the website is ready to face the trial as it has “meticulously followed every journalistic norm" in August 2019.

The same claim was also shared here, here, here and here on Facebook, and here, here, here and here on Twitter.

The claim, however, is false.

Journalist Rohini Singh, who wrote the story, took to Twitter on March 20, 2021 to call out the message as false when the misleading messages started to circulate.

“You have left the truth and facts way far behind alongside journalism. You have pronounced the verdict while the trial in the case is yet to begin. Now the Bhakts (Prime minister Modi and BJP supporters) will spread this via WhatsApp. The most adverse impact of WhatsApp being down has fallen upon the Bhakt-ecosystem,” says the Hindi tweet in response to a now-deleted tweet.

The Wire’s Founding Editor Siddharth Varadarajan dubbed the message as false when a AFP journalist in Delhi talked to him over phone on March 23, 2021 over the issue.

“The trail is yet to start in the case, so there is no basis for such a claim. This is absolutely rubbish, don’t know who are the people circulating this message,” said Varadarajan.

The Supreme Court of India has allowed The Wire to withdraw its pleas asking for quashing the case as reported by The Indian Express on August 28, 2019, but no credible reports were found about the development in the case afterwards.

The Wire’s counsel also said in a 2018 report that there was no question of an apology but agreed to carry a clarification.