Regulators

High Court muzzles media against sexual harassment case against ex-judge

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NEW DELHI: In a directive that has not been taken kindly by the media, the Delhi High Court yesterday restrained the media from publishing and telecasting the contents of the law intern’s complaint of sexual harassment against former Supreme Court judge Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Ordering deletion of alleged defamatory parts of the news items and the photograph of Justice Kumar within 24 hours, Justice Manmohan Singh, in his interim order, also asked the media not to carry the photographs of Justice Kumar, who is also the National Green Tribunal Chairperson in their future news reports.

“The defendants number 1 to 5 (media houses and the law intern) are further restrained from telecasting and printing the photograph of the plaintiff (Justice Kumar),” the judge said while pronouncing the order in a packed court room.

Interestingly, the Court order came a day after the Supreme Court issued notice to Justice Kumar on a petition filed by the law intern.

The High Court also made it clear that its order will remain effective till 24 February, the next date of hearing, and issued notices to the woman intern, two English news channels, and a leading English daily.

The court had earlier reserved its interim order on the plea of Justice Kumar seeking to restrain media from reporting, publishing or telecasting news relating to the law intern’s complaint against the judge, saying only court proceedings can be reported “nothing more, nothing less”.

The plea had also sought a ban on repeat of the television programmes on the subject.

Justice Kumar has also demanded Rs. 5 crore as damages from the law intern, who made the allegation against him, and three media groups that publicised her complaint.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the former judge, had said Justice Kumar has an “illustrious career spanning 43 years in the legal field as a lawyer and as a high court and the Supreme Court Judge and more over, his fundamental right of good name and reputation cannot be allowed to be blackened by the media.”

The petition has also said, “pass a decree for damages in favour of the plaintiff and against defendant number 1 to 5 jointly and severally at least for an amount of Rs 5 crore only or for any higher amounts as this court may be pleased to determine...”

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