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Supreme Court rejects plea to gag media on Adani-Hindenburg issue

The Supreme Court of India.

Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on February 24 refused point-blank a request to gag the media from reporting on the Adani-Hindenburg issue until the apex court passes an order on the formation of an expert committee.

“No, there is no question of passing any injunction on the media… No gag on the media. We will pass our order, we will do what we have to do,” Chief Justice Chandrachud told advocate M.L. Sharma, who made the request during the mentioning hour.

In the last hearing, the court had taken a decisive step towards transparency in the case by refusing to accept “suggestions” from the government on the names and mandates of the committee.

“We rather not accept the sealed-cover suggestions from you (government). If we accept your suggestions in a sealed cover, the other side (petitioners) will not be able to see them. We want to maintain full transparency,” Chief Justice Chandrachud had explained to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, in the previous hearing on February 17.

The court had said that accepting the government’s suggestions in a hush-hush manner would prove detrimental to the credibility of the committee and its future work in the eyes of the nation.

Hindenburg has accused the Adani Group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud schemes over the course of decades”.

“There may be an impression created that this is a government-appointed committee which the Supreme Court has accepted even if we have not accepted your suggestions. We want to maintain the fullest transparency in the interest of protecting investors… We will appoint a committee of our own which might be altogether better as it provides a sense of confidence in the process… Otherwise, even if we do not accept two names [proposed by the government for the committee], they (petitioners) will not have any way of knowing,” Chief Justice Chandrachud, heading a three-judge Bench, had said categorically.

Mr. Mehta said he had “no difficulty” with the court’s reasoning. He said the government’s suggestions were “absolutely objective”. It wanted the “truth to come out”.

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