Sameeksha Trust, which publishes the Economic and Political Weekly, clarified today that it took down an article related to a business house from its website as it "failed" to meet the standards of the journal and also did not go through its editorial review process.
In a statement, the trust asserted it will continue to critique all manner of policies and establishments of all political colours, like it has always done, while stressing that the instrument for criticism has to be evidence-based
research and analysis or commentary.
The Adani group had served a legal notice on Sameeksha, former EPW editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and three co-authors of the article published on the journal's website on June 17, threatening legal action against them.
Subsequently Guha Thakurta resigned as editor.
The trust said Guha Thakurta had unilaterally initiated legal proceedings over the notice, without informing its members, a charge which the veteran journalist acknowledged, while claiming that the "full picture" was not being shared.
Seeking to address concerns over the journal's current standing and future, the office-bearers said, in their view, the article was riddled with allegations based on information from anonymous sources, often just a single unnamed source.
"Several assertions were unsubstantiated by evidence; and there were insinuations of impropriety against several persons, not backed by any firm evidence," it said, adding that when asked for supporting evidence, Guha Thakurta was "unwilling" to provide it.
The trust's decision to remove the article from the EPW website was criticised by many academics, including Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, and sections of the media fraternity, who said the decision was against the principles of free speech.
"It is important to give authors of investigative articles a fair chance to respond before deciding how to deal with a threat of legal action. In India today, where liberty and freedom of expression are severely under attack, courage with critical judgement must have a hugely important role," Sen and Angus Deaton, also a Nobel winner, had written in a letter to the Indian Express newspaper.