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Bharat Biotech’s bullying will not work: TheWire's Siddharth Varadarajan on court order

On February 23 an Andhra court ordered The Wire to take down articles against Bharat Biotech. Earlier, the Indian drug and vaccine maker had filed a Rs 100 crore defamation case against The Wire

In connection with the Rs 100 crore defamation case filed by Bharat Biotech, an Andhra Court has ordered ‘The Wire’ to pull down 14 articles related to the Indian drugmaker and Covaxin, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by it. 

Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire, took to Twitter to express his dismay over the order, he said that no chance was given to them to refute ‘false claims’ made by the drugmaker. He also went on to state that the ‘bullying’ by Bharat Biotech will prove to be useless.

Varadarajan’s tweet read, “So 14 deeply reported Covaxin stories— published over a year—ordered to be taken down by a local AP court with no notice served on The Wire. No chance was given for us to refute whatever false claims Bharat Biotech has made against us. Let me say this—BB’s bullying will not work”

The court has also restrained The Wire, Vardarajan, SR Bhatia, MK Venu, the Founding Editors, and others from publishing “Defamatory; articles relating to Bharat Biotech.”

Earlier, a defamation suit was filed by the Indian drugmaker against the publisher of The Wire, its editors, and writers. Bharat Biotech claimed that The Wire had written ‘denigrating’ articles against Bharat Biotech and ‘Covaxin’ developed by it. The suit was filed before XVI Additional District Judge, Rangareddy Court.

As reported by Live Law, Senior Counsel K Vivek Reddy, appearing for the petitioner/plaintiff Bharat Biotech, argued that The Wire had published articles on its website with false allegations against Bharat Biotech and Covaxin. He also said that the articles lacked any element of truth and were published without proper verification of the facts which severely damaged the reputation of the petitioner.

He said, “The Wire published several articles making false statements without proper fact check about the regulatory approvals granted to Bharat Biotech. Even after the Government of India had approved the vaccine, articles continued to be published otherwise on The Wire.”

The Court observed that Bharat Biotech is the sole vaccine candidate to be authorised to manufacture the vaccine for inoculation of children between 15 to 18 years and the impugned “defamatory and false” articles published by The Wire will increase vaccine hesitancy.

 

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