The Delhi high court on Thursday barred media outlets from further reporting the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by a former law intern against National Green Tribunal chairman justice Swatanter Kumar, except “fair reporting” of court cases on the issue.
Justice Manmohan Singh said that the ban on reporting was a “temporary measure”, which will remain in force till the next date of hearing on February 24.
“The irreparable loss shall ensue to the plaintiff (justice Kumar) at this stage and not to the defendants if such publications and telecast of TV news of such nature on similar lines are not postponed,” the HC said.
The HC’s order came on a defamation suit filed by justice Kumar, a former judge of the Supreme Court, against the law intern, four media organisations and a journalist seeking damages of Rs. 5 crore for tarnishing his reputation.
It also directed the four media organisations to delete the offending content from the internet and other electronic media which were pointed out by justice Kumar in the suit within 24 hours.
“The observations made in this order are prima facie in nature and will not preclude the defendants to report the Court cases and happenings as facts which are covered ambit of fair reporting on the basis of true, correct and verified information,” the court said.
It noted that a strong prima facie case was made against media organisation who had published write ups and telecasted the incident by highlighting the allegations “to create sensation amongst public”.
“It may also result in creating an atmosphere in the form of public opinion wherein a person may not be able to put forward his defence properly and his likelihood of getting fair trial would be seriously impaired,” the court added.