BY: RITIKA SINGH
A Delhi high court judge over allegations of sexual harassment involving the Indian artist Subodh Gupta had ordered Facebook and Google to take down 18 posts related to it. The court also decreed that Instagram owned by Facebook must disclose the identity of the user behind the account Herdsceneand by the time of the next court hearing on 18 November.The Herdsceneand account accused Gupta and asserted sexual harassment allegations against him in December 2018 and January 2019 has published two Instagram posts, which accused Gupta of alleged sexual harassment in December 2018 and January 2019. Gupta has also sought 5m rupees (around £57,100) in damages from the account’s administrators.
Judge Rajiv Sahai Endlaw stated that the “defamatory” content on the Instagram account “cannot be permitted to be made in public domain” and “published without being backed by legal recourse”. The court also banned @Herdsceneand from posting any further content related to Gupta until the next hearing. Gupta’s words about the allegations are “entirely false and fabricated”. He walked down from his position as co-curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa several days after the first allegation was posted online. Later the year, the court had directed the said Instagram account holder to either ask all the persons who had shared their stories to join the case or to implead itself as a party on behalf of all such persons. Meanwhile, the court had conserved the anonymity of both the individual operating the account. It was held in the last proceedings, that if the said persons would wish to join the case as parties, the court would consider maintaining their anonymity by letting them file redacted written documents, and by holding an in-camera trial.
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The defamation case over posts alleging sexual harassment by the famous artist Subodh Gupta has been settled between the parties in Delhi High Court against the Instagram page ‘Herdsceneand’.
In prior proceedings, the court had ordered Google to take down around 18 news articles in connection with the allegations against Subodh Gupta. On October 14, Google had moved the Delhi High Court seeking modification of the said order, saying that such an action would have a ‘chilling effect on free speech’, and would be detrimental to the public interest.
QUESTION OF LAW:-
The first ambiguity that appears in the front is about the relevancy of privacy or anonymity, in simple words should the name of the person behind the Instagram handle should be put forward? The answer is given by the court of law very significantly that the right to privacy must prevail. The second ambiguity relates to the punishment regarding the defamation, as the defamation can become a crime under relevant conditions, should the settlement take place? Or a benchmark must be created for the rest of the society for its own greater good.
As the number of cases of sexual assaults has been significantly increased the number of false cases has also been increased in a similar manner. The court has taken steps in the related issue, and the court will set a benchmark for the same.