The Delhi high court on Thursday will decide whether the media can freely report on the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by a former law intern against National Green Tribunal chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The chairman, a former judge of the Supreme Court, has filed a defamation suit against the law intern, four media organisations and a journalist, seeking damages of Rs. 5 crore for allegedly tarnishing his reputation.
Justice Manmohan Singh on Wednesday reserved the order on the chairman’s defamation suit, in which he accused the media of publishing the news without “verification of the allegations”.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for him, told the high court because of the “pre-judgment by media” his client had been “named and defamed”.
Rohatgi said, “Trial by the media comes as interference in the course of justice. It is a matter of balancing their rights and my client’s right to live with dignity, which has been hampered here.”
He also questioned the law intern for coming out with her complaint against after two and a half years.
“The intern had every right to file an FIR, which she has not. Why write a letter after two and half years,” Rohatgi said.
On January 11, he had threatened to initiate criminal and civil defamation suits against the four media organisations if they did not apologise. However, counsel representing the two of the news channels told the court that they had been reporting the issue “fairly”. He assured the court they would not repeat the telecast of the programme concerning sexual harassment allegations against the chairman.