Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has moved court against Wire over at least 14 reports on the company and its vaccine Covaxin in a Rs 100 crore defamation suit, legal news websites reported on Wednesday.
In its lawsuit at the district court in Rangareddy in Telangana, the company argued that the reports were false and written with malicious intent.
Bar and Benchreported that after hearing Bharat Biotech’s arguments, the additional district judge directed Wire to take down 14 reports on the manufacturer. It also restrained it from publishing any “defamatory articles” on Bharat Biotech and Covaxin.
Live Law added that the judge believed that “false articles” by the Wire will “increase vaccine hesitancy”.
Wire editor Siddharth Vardarajan took to Twitter to express dismay. He claimed that the court passed the order without hearing the organisation’s arguments, without serving any notice. On Thursday, Varadarajan told Newslaundry that he hasn’t accessed a copy of the lawsuit and is yet to see the court order.
The order of the district court has not been made public yet. Newslaundry asked Bharat Biotech counsel K Vivek Reddy for a copy of the lawsuit but he refused.
The particular articles in question are still a mystery. Reddy told us that since the proceedings are ongoing, he cannot comment.
The court will next hear the matter on March 16.
The suit names Wire editors Vardarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, M K Venu and Wire Science editor Vasudevan Mukunth as defendants. Journalists and contributors who wrote on Bharat Biotech and its vaccine for the website were also included – journalists Priyanka Pulla, Banjot Kaur, Seraj Ali, Shobhan Saxena and Florencia Costa, epidemiologist Jammi Nagaraj Rao, pharmaceutical professional Neeta Sanghi and PhD student Prem Anand Murugan.
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