HC bans media from reporting Kumar case

Adverse publicity should be handled with care: Court

HC bans media from reporting  Kumar case

The Delhi High Court on Thursday barred publication and telecast of a law intern's complaint of sexual harassment allegations against former Supreme Court judge Swatanter Kumar.

The court said adverse publicity against judges should be “handled with care and caution” as it may prejudice people's faith in the higher judiciary.

“The defendants (three media houses and woman law intern), their agents, assigns or any of them acting on their behalf and/or any other person, entity, in print or electronic media or internet are restrained from further publishing the write -ups as mentioned, of the documents file or publishing any article or write up and telecast which highlights the allegations against the plaintiff in the form of headlines connecting or associating plaintiff with those allegations, particularly, without disclosing in the headlines of article that they are mere allegations against the plaintiff or any other similar nature of articles, write - up and telecast,” Justice Manmohan Singh, in 42-page interim order, said.

Finding prima facie substance in the law suit of Justice Kumar, Chairperson of National Green Tribunal, the bench said that if the complaint of the law intern is found to be false after inquiry, then “who would ultimately compensate and return the repute and sufferings of the plaintiff and mental torture caused to him and his family members.”

Issuing notices to two english news channels and an english daily, it asked them to delete the “offending” contents and the photograph of Justice Kumar from “internet or other electronic media” within 24 hours and file a compliance report within a week.

The court, however, said its observations were “prima facie in nature” and did not stop the media from reporting the “court cases and happenings as facts which are covered under the ambit of fair reporting on the basis of true, correct and verified information.” 

The court, however, said the right to freedom of expression was available to media under Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India but it can be curtailed under certain conditions.

“The court can pass interim orders restraining the publication if the court finds that there exists a real and imminent danger that the continuance of the publication would result in interference with the administration of justice,” Justice Singh said while relying on a Supreme Court verdict given in the Sahara India case.

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