NEW DELHI: The anonymous person behind an Instagram account that had levelled sexual harassment charges against artist Subodh Gupta told the Delhi high court on Tuesday that s/he was unconditionally withdrawing the defamatory content posted on the handle. The anonymous person also expressed regret.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw noted that the Instagram account holder, who has preferred to remain anonymous, undertook to remove the posts and told the court that the dispute with Gupta had been settled under this condition.
The HC then decreed the defamation suit in favour of the artist and against the holder of the Instagram account“@herdsceneand”, and ended the matter after Guptas counsel said he was agreeable to the suit decree and would not press for further removal or blocking of URLs relating to defamatory posts/ articles/ content, apart from those already under court orders.
The HC had earlier asked the account holder whether s/he wanted to represent the anonymous victim in the defamation suit filed by Gupta through advocate Neoma Vasdev.
The court also shot down attempts by the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) to oppose the settlement and questioned its locus. When IJU claimed a decree in favour of Gupta would affect the rights of journalists to write or report the matter, the HC demanded the names of the journalists who want to write or whose rights are affected, but the IJU didnt give any.
“Once the defendant from whose handle the story emanated has made the statement and expressed regret for the same. IJU cant claim any right to interfere in the compromise arrived at between the two parties,” Justice Endlaw observed.
For its part, Google, which was also dragged to court by Gupta, said the HCs earlier directions have been adhered to and it had removed the URLs carrying the defamatory content, but the articles were still available on the host websites of certain media houses and other search engines.
The victim was not arrayed as a party in the case, while the identity of the person running the Instagram account that published the allegations in the wake of the #MeToo movement was kept secret on the courts directions.
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