A Telangana court has ordered the communist propaganda website The Wire to remove 14 posts it had written critical of Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech and its Covid-19 vaccination Covaxin. The order came after Bharat Biotech filed a defamation suit against The Wire and 12 people linked with it for Rs100 crore.
The court has also barred The Wire, its editor Siddharth Vardarajan, and the individuals named in the suit from publishing any defamatory stories against Bharat Biotech, according to legal portal Bar & Bench.
The company argued in the court that The Wire had published articles that contained false allegations against Bharat Biotech and COVAXIN. The company’s counsel Senior Advocate Vivek Reddy said that the portal published the reports with malicious intent to undermine the reputation of Bharat Biotech.
Reddy said in the court that Bharat Biotech had previously developed vaccines for Tuberculosis, Zika Rotavirus, Chikungunya and Typhoid and received national and global recognition and has now collaborated with leading Government of India institutions to develop the Covid-19 vaccine. The company said that The Wire published a series of articles making fake allegations on authorisation and approvals of Covaxin without checking the facts.
Other than The Wire, the other defendants named in the case are Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, MK Bhanu, Neeta Sanghi, Vasudevan Mukunth, Shobhan Saxena, Florencia Costa, Prem Anand Murugan, Banjot Kaur, Priyanka Pulla, Seraj Ali, and Jammi Nagaraj Rao.
Responding to the arguments, the court noted that even after the government had approved the vaccine, The Wire continued to publish reports against it. The court said that only the Covaxin has been approved for the age group 15 to 18, but the portal still published reports which can lead to vaccine hesitancy.
Therefore, the court ordered The Wire to remove the articles from their website within 48 hours, and also restrained them from publishing any defamatory articles targeting Bharat Biotech and Covaxin.
Responding to the report, Siddharth Varadarajan alleged that a local Andhra Pradesh court has ordered to take down the 14 articles without serving any notice on the portal. Calling the propaganda articles ‘deeply reported’, he claimed that no change was given to them to refute the ‘false claims’ made by Bharat Biotech.