NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to its former judge and present Chairman of NGT Swatanter Kumar on a plea filed by an intern, who had levelled sexual harassment allegations against him, seeking transfer of his defamation suit against her from the Delhi High Court.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha asked Kumar to respond within four weeks on the intern’s plea who expressed apprehensions of not getting justice in Delhi citing the influence and high position enjoyed by Kumar in the bar and bench.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Indira Jaising told the court that it is not the contention of the petitioner that the High Court would, in fact, favour Kumar, but she has reasonable apprehension to that affect and demanded that case should be transferred from the Delhi High Court to a civil court in Bangalore as the law intern stays there.
The court was told that all efforts of the woman lawyer to get a senior lawyer to represent her in the High Court have failed as most of them have appeared for Kumar or before him as a judge.
Jaising informed the court that as many as 24 lawyers appeared for him in the High Court in the first hearing.
As senior counsel K K Venugopal opposed the plea saying that it caused reflection on 42 judges of the court, Chief Justice Lodha said: “Go by the likelihood of her apprehension. Don’t go by what I think or you think of judges.”
“If transfer of a case addresses the apprehension of a party (to the case) without affecting the other party, the balance could be drawn. Transfer does not harm anybody,” the court said as Venugopal sought time to respond to the plea for transferring the case.
As Jaising said the next date of hearing was August 28, Venugopal said that nothing would happen as they would seek adjournment. A defamation suit was filed by Kumar in the Delhi High Court against the woman intern and some media houses for allegations of sexual harassment made against him. He had also demanded `5 crore as damages from the woman lawyer and media groups that publicised her complaint.