•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

Read Essar’s Rs 250 cr Ahmedabad defamation & injunction claim vs Caravan (+ the magazine’s response)

The cover story Essar didn't like
The cover story Essar didn't like

Essar Steel India has filed a Rs 250 crore defamation suit in the Ahmedabad city civil court against Delhi-headquartered magazine Caravan, its publisher Delhi Press, several of its editors and staff reporter Krishn Kaushik.

The Ahmedabad suit, filed by Gujarat law firm Nanavati Associates, alleges that Caravan’s story “Doing the Needful: Essar’s industry of influence” (published online, requires free registration) and “Purchasing Power – How Essar wields influence over India Government and Finance” (published in its August 2015 edition) was defamatory and made “several imputations… to harm or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputations will harm the reputation of Essar… without any lawful justification and thereby, defamed Essar, including the Plaintiff and its promoters”.

Suit, legal notices and responses available here

Essar in its suit seeks an temporary injunction and ex parte order to restrain the defendants from “in any manner publishing, issuing, circulating, distributing or advertising in any manner whatsoever either in print or electronic or any other form of media any defamatory story or article concerning the Plaintiff”, claiming that there is a “clear cut and strong prima facie case” against Caravan.

“If the reliefs as prayed for herein are granted, no harm, loss, injury or prejudice will be caused to the Defendants. However, if the same are not granted, the Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm, loss and injury, which cannot be compensated in terms of money,” adds the suit.

Essar also seeks damages of Rs 250 crores as “a genuine pre-estimate of the damages suffered by it considering that it is a part of a large conglomerate ‘Essar’ which has investments in various sectors such as steel, energy, infrastructure etc and having operations in more than 29 countries across 5 continents and the worldwide goodwill and reputation that it holds”.

The case was filed in Ahmedabad because Essar is “carrying on substantial business” in the city and has corporate offices there, while Caravan is circulated in Ahmedabad and has an office in the city. The case is expected to be heard in the Ahmedabad city civil court on Monday, 24 August. Correction: The case is expected to be heard on 24 September, not 24 August.

The suit lists 12 statements and/or comments that the company alleges are “per se defamatory… without the least justification”:

It does not contain fair and accurate information regarding the affairs of Essar. The comments made therein against Essar are reckless and wholly unfair and generally considered as disgraceful. The same cannot be said to have been made for public good. There is also no material to show good faith behind the publication…

Essar's allegations of defamatory parts of the article
Essar's allegations of defamatory parts of the article

Notices and responses

The suit follows two legal notices sent by Essar.

The first was sent via Supreme Court advocate Abhimanyu Bhandari on 21 July in relation to Caravan’s online story titled “How Essar Handed Out 195 iPads as Diwali Gifts to Top Politicians, Bureaucrats and Journalists in 2010”.

The second notice was sent via Supreme Court advocates Agarwal Law Associates on 8 August relating to the cover story (at page 42 of the suit).

Caravan’s lawyer Amit Gupta responded to both notices respectively on 25 July, with a six page letter, and on 18 August, with a 10-page letter, denying Essar’s defamation allegations point by point.

In the 18 August response to the legal notice, Gupta noted that the disputed story was “based on the facts provided by the whistleblower” who was an employee of Essar and whose leaked documents were used by Prashant Bhushan in a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court in addition to “extensive research, investigation and interviews” of by the Caravan’s staff reporter Kaushik:

Caravan's reply on Kaushik's reporting
Caravan's reply on Kaushik's reporting

Gupta’s reply also stated that “several crucial facts” in the story were never rebutted by Essar.

Caravan's reply on points allegedly not addressed by Essar
Caravan's reply on points allegedly not addressed by Essar

Essar had threatened the Indian Express and its journalists with arrest for receiving stolen property in February 2015, for publishing a story based on the whistleblower’s leaked emails that alleged that the company treated important politicians and contacts to perks and gifts.

In 2014 Essar filed a Rs 500 crore defamation claim against the India chapter of Greenpeace for the NGO’s action unfurling a banner on Essar’s offices stating “WE KILL FORESTS”. [read Essar’s petitions and Greenpeace’s responses here]

Caravan and Gupta won a reprieve from the Supreme Court against the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), as reported on 12 August by Legally India, transferring the 2011 defamation case against it from Silchar in Assam to the Delhi high court.

Caravan v Essar - Ahmedabad civil suit 2065 of 2015

Response by Caravan to Essar’s legal notice, before the suit

First legal notice and response available here

Click to show 7 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.