The Delhi High Court on Thursday restrained the media from publishing and telecasting contents of a law intern’s complaint of sexual harassment against former Supreme Court judge Swatanter Kumar. While passing an interim order on a petition filed by the former judge, Justice Manmohan Singh ordered the deletion of alleged defamatory parts of the news items and barred the use of Justice Kumar’s photograph within 24 hours. “The defendants No 1 to 5 (media houses and the
law intern) are further restrained from telecasting and printing the photograph of the plaintiff (Justice Kumar),” Justice Singh said while penning the 42-page judgment.
The court made it clear that the order will remain effective till February 24, the next date of hearing, and issued notices to the 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 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”. “It is true that the freedom of press cannot be extended beyond reporting of facts. The plaintiff... has earned a name in bar and bench,” it observed.
The court also said that after the stringent provisions were added in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, strict view would have to be applied, specially in cases where the complaint is filed after the lapse of a long period. “This Court is also of the view that there should be a limitation of time for the purpose of filing of such complaints,” Justice Singh said. Justice Kumar has demanded `5 crore as damages from the law intern and three media groups.