The Delhi High Court allowed Instagram user @herdsceneand, who published sexual harassment allegations against artist Subodh Gupta, to temporarily remain anonymous in court.

Instagram user who made Me Too post on Subodh Gupta given interim anonymity by HCYouTube screengrab
news Court Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 11:49

The Delhi High Court has allowed the anonymous Instagram user who published sexual harassment allegations against artist Subodh Gupta to maintain interim anonymity in the defamation case filed by him. The Instagram account, which goes by the name @herdsceneand, had published the allegations against Subodh Gupta, who was accused of sexual harassment in October 2018. Following the accusations, Gupta filed a Rs 5 crore defamation suit against the Instagram user.

On Monday, hearing the case, a single judge bench headed by Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw allowed @herdsceneand to submit the vakalatnama (a document authorising a lawyer to appear and plead on behalf of the client) and the written statements in a sealed cover. 

The counsel for the Instagram account told the court that the account holder is willing to join the case in court provided anonymity is maintained, since revealing the identity may cause irreparable loss to the victims of sexual harassment who have shared their stories. LiveLaw reported that the judge ordered that interim anonymity will be continued till the case reaches the stage of hearing on the merits.

During the previous hearing, the Delhi High Court had admitted Subodh’s plea. It passed an order restraining the anonymous Instagram handle from posting anything pertaining to Subodh and directed that all the links that talk about the sexual harassment allegations must be taken down. The court had issued a notice to Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, to furnish details of the Instagram account. However, Facebook responded that doing so would violate the fundamental right of privacy of both the person running the account as well as of all those women who shared their stories of sexual harassment.

On December 13, 2018, @herdsceneand had uploaded a post on Instagram where a woman had listed multiple instances of Subodh’s alleged inappropriate behaviour. After this, another woman narrated of similar experience and that too was uploaded in the form of an anonymous post. At the time, Subodh had stepped down as the co-curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, and denied the allegations against him, and called the allegations against him as “false and fabricated.”

Subodh then moved the Delhi High Court seeking damages of Rs 5 crore, claiming in his petition that the allegations were false and malicious.

Also read: ‘Chilling effect on free speech’: Google on order to remove Me Too links on Subodh Gupta

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