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SUPARN PANDEY V. GAYATRI DAHIYA - (High Court of Delhi) (30 Oct 2019)

Application for curbing media reporting of case can be moved in Court where it is pending



The Plaintiff has instituted present suit for (i) recovery of damages for defamation; (ii) restraining the Defendant from further defaming the Plaintiff; and, (iii) taking down of the allegedly defamatory content.

The allegedly defamatory allegations are with respect to the complaint made by the Defendant against the Plaintiff of sexual harassment at work place and the legal proceedings emanating therefrom. It is the case of the Plaintiff that, the Defendant has been leaking to the media, particularly the electronic media her version of the complaint and the legal proceedings in pursuance thereto. It needs to be considered whether re-posting of the allegedly defamatory allegations furnish a fresh cause of action to the Plaintiff particularly, when the initial posting remains on the electronic media.

It is argued, (a) that the defendant has been successively improving her case and causing prejudice to the Plaintiff; (b) from selective release of news by the Defendant, the plaintiff is being subjected to a media trial and is suffering; and, (c) that at least the Defendant be restrained from going to the media with respect to filing of the present suit by the Plaintiff.

Prima facie it appears, that when the complainant in cases of sexual harassment has come forward, identifying herself and has taken legal recourse, the order restraining the said complainant from going to the media can be made only by the Court which is seized of the prosecution or complaint or other proceedings initiated by the complainant, as it is that Court only which is equipped to take a call on the merits of the complaint. It is not open to another Court to enter into the said controversy and take a call on the respective merits of the case of the complainant and the person complained against, and to pass any orders restraining media reporting of such proceeding, as legal and Court proceedings are in public domain and in open Court and media reporting thereof is only an extension of the Court room, as held in Primero Skill & Training Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Selima Publications Pvt. Ltd.

It is only the Court which is seized of the proceedings initiated by the complainant, which can judge whether the proceedings in the case before it are being correctly reported or not, and the same cannot be judged in a parallel proceeding. In Primero Skill & Training Pvt. Ltd. present Court relied on Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited Vs. Securities and Exchange Board of India and held that postponement of publication of Court proceedings can be applied for to the same Court in which the proceedings are pending and not to another Court.

Similarly, the Plaintiff having himself opened up another platform of litigation with the Defendant, cannot, seek restraint against reporting if any by the Defendant of the filing of the present suit or the proceedings therein. A plaintiff cannot institute a suit to prevent media reporting of the suit or proceedings therein. Moreover, till there is no restraint against media reporting of the other legal proceedings initiated by the Defendant, restraint of media reporting of the present proceedings will serve no purpose.


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