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3 seniors complain about Feb TOI photo of Swatanter Kumar as Delhi HC receives transfer petition copy & adjourns

The Delhi high court adjourned its hearing in the Swatanter Kumar defamation case to 28 August, after the Supreme Court transfer petition was filed with the court in sealed cover.

Vrinda Grover, the counsel for the former student intern who alleged last year she was sexually harassed by Kumar while he was a Supreme Court judge, asked for an adjournment in order for the Supreme Court to hear the transfer petition of the Delhi high court case to Bangalore.

That transfer petition was filed with the presiding Delhi high court judge, Justice Manmohan Singh, today.

Senior counsel AS Chandhiok and Rajiv Nayar argued for Kumar in the morning, while senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul appeared in the afternoon when the transfer petition was filed in sealed cover with the court. A total of seven senior counsel and 11 advocates, including some from Kumar’s retained law firm Karanjawala & Co, were listed as advising Kumar in the previous published order of the Delhi high court in the matter on 7 May.

Kumar’s counsel also argued that media, and in particular, some of the respondent media organisations, had been violating the Delhi high court’s January order by reporting on the case – something Chandhiok had also raised in the previous hearing on 15 May after the transfer petition was reported on by newspapers and the petition was published online by Legally India, and legal news websites Bar & Bench and Livelaw. In the transfer petition, the intern had argued that there was “absolutely no chance of equal or near equal legal representation in Delhi and hence a fair trial will be jeopardized” if the defamation case was not transferred to Bangalore.

Counsel for the media company defendants - the Indian Express, Bennett Coleman, which owns the TV channel Times Now that was accused of defaming Kumar, and CNN-IBN - responded that they were not violating the order by merely reporting on the transfer petition and the case.

However, Kumar’s lawyers said that the Times of India, which is also owned by the Bennett Coleman group but is not alleged in this case to have published anything defamatory to date, had on 14 February published a story about Kumar that had included his photograph - something that Justice Singh had prohibited the defendants from doing.

Senior counsel Ashwani Mata appeared for Times Now, and counsel for the Times of India told the court that it would ask its client not to publish any more photographs of Kumar.

Advocates for the intern and Swatanter Kumar declined to comment when contacted.

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