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Karanjawala & Co issues takedown notice of pixellated Swatanter Kumar photo, relying on HC injunction

Artist's sketch of original
Artist's sketch of original

Karanjawala & Co, the law firm representing Swatanter Kumar in his Rs 5 crore defamation suit against the Indian Express, Times Now and CNN-IBN, has sent a legal notice requesting the removal of “all offending material” published in a Legally India article, including a “blurred” photograph of the former judge.

The 16 January 2014 Delhi high court order injuncted those defendants and other persons from reporting certain allegations against Kumar without prominently noting that they were in fact allegations.

The court also ordered the removal in respect of photographs and previous articles on Kumar published by the defendants. [Delhi high court 16 January 2014 order (PDF)]

Legally India reported the court’s order on 17 January [story], alongside a heavily pixellated stock photo of Kumar in his judge’s robes [photo].

Karanjawala wrote in an email today that Legally India had “published a photograph of our client which establishes a connection with certain allegations of sexual harassment made by a purported intern. The photograph as published on the website, albeit blurred, can be identified to be that of our client”:

“You are further called upon to remove forthwith but not later than 24 hours of receipt of the notice, all offending material contained in the article […] including the photograph of our client […]. Please note that any violation of the aforesaid injunction order by you will compel our client to initiate proceedings against you, for disobedience of the injunction granted by the Hon'ble Court as also proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act, 1973. Our client reserves his right to take appropriate action against you for any violation of the orders of the Hon’ble Court.”

Legally India is currently consulting lawyers on whether to comply with the takedown request.

Text of email from Karanjawala:

The Publishing Editor, [Kian Ganz]

Legally India

Re: Swatanter Kumar v. The Indian Express Limited being CS (OS) No. 102 of 2014 pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Court Delhi

Our client: Mr. Swatanter Kumar (Former Judge of the Supreme Court of India)

Dear Sir,

Under instructions of and on behalf of our client, we write to you as under:

1.             Our client has instituted a suit, registered as Civil Suit (OS) No. 102 of 2014 in the High Court of Delhi seeking, inter alia, an injunction restraining any person or entity from publishing, republishing, carrying out any report or articles or any discussion or reporting or publishing in any other manner, any other matter of any kind directly or indirectly pertaining to the purported complaint filed by an intern against our client.

2.            That the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, vide order dated 16.01.2014, while recording submissions of our client [including those in paragraph 22 of the order dated 16.01.2014] was pleased to pass, by way of an ad interim injunction, certain directions as contained in paragraphs 63, 64, 65 and 66 of the order dated 16.01.2014. The aforesaid paragraphs are reproduced herein below:

“22. The plaintiff has also stated that there are a large numbers of newspapers in various languages in India. There are also several news and general entertainment channels and online websites. Due to the advent of internet and mass media, it is impossible for the plaintiff to determine as well as to implead all the newspapers and TV channels as well as entities reporting/carrying publishing defamatory material against the plaintiff. Defendant No.6 has regulatory control over the said entities/persons. The plaintiff prays that an injunction order be passed against the said other persons also who are not made party hereto, including defendant Nos.1 to 5.

“63. In view of the aforementioned discussion, I find that the plaintiff has been able to make out a strong prima facie case on the basis of the disclosure of the material available on record especially copies of newspapers at page Nos.6, 8, 10 of the documents and the CDs which clearly show that the defendants have published the write ups and telecasted by highlighting the allegations on the front page in order to create sensation amongst public and made it apparent by creating the impression that the plaintiff in all probability is involved in such incident. The balance of the convenience is also in favour of the plaintiff as the degree of the prejudice is far more excessive than that of the defendants. The irreparable loss shall ensue to the plaintiff at this stage and not to the defendants if such publications and telecast of TV news of such nature on similar lines are not postponed. The interim order is also passed against any other person, entity, in print or electronic media or internet in view of the settled law in the case of ESPN Software India Private Limited vs. M/s Tudu Enterprises and Others in [sic]

64.  Accordingly, the defendants, their agents, assigns or any of them acting on their behalf and/or any other person, entity, in print or electronic media or internet are:

a)  Restrained from further publishing the write ups as mentioned in page Nos.6, 7, 10 of the documents file or publishing any article or write up and telecast which highlights the allegations against the plaintiff in the form of headlines connecting or associating plaintiff with those allegations, particularly, without disclosing in the headlines of article that they are mere allegations against the plaintiff or any other similar nature of articles, write up and telecast.

b)  The directions made in para (a) restrains the defendants from publication either in print media or in electronic form or in any manner publishing the said news in televised form. The defendants shall delete the offending content as mentioned in para (a) from internet or other electronic media and shall take necessary steps within 24 hours from today.

c)  The defendants are further restrained from publishing the photographs of the plaintiff either in print media or electronic media or Internet or on TV channels which may suggest connection of the plaintiff with the said allegations made by defendant No.5 and remove his photographs from internet or all other electronic media as well as upload defamatory articles.”

65. The said interim directions as mentioned in paras (a) to (c) of postponement of publications shall remain in force till the next of date of hearing which is a temporary measure as per Sahara India (supra) and the same are subject to further monitoring by this Court from time to time.

66.    The observations made in this order are prima facie in nature and will not preclude the defendants to report the Court cases and happenings as facts which are covered ambit of fair reporting on the basis of true, correct and verified information. [emphasis supplied]

3.            It has come to the attention of our client that you, the noticee, in the article titled "Delhi HC permits ‘fair’ reporting on Swatanter Kumar sex harass allegations (but no more pictures for Arnab) after 11 seniors’ full-court press" which can be viewed on your website https://www.legallyindia.com/201401174249/Bar-Bench-Litigation/swatanter-kumar-defamation-interim-injunction, have also published a photograph of our client which establishes a connection with certain allegations of sexual harassment made by a purported intern. The photograph as published on the website, albeit blurred, can be identified to be that of our client.

4.            Now therefore, you are hereby called upon to comply with the orders of the Hon’ble High Court as contained in paragraphs 64, 65 and 66 of the order dated 16.01.2014 passed in the captioned matter. You are further called upon to remove forthwith but not later than 24 hours of receipt of the notice, all offending material contained in the article "Delhi HC permits ‘fair’ reporting on Swatanter Kumar sex harass allegations (but no more pictures for Arnab) including the photograph of our client which can be viewed online at https://www.legallyindia.com/201401174249/Bar-Bench-Litigation/swatanter-kumar-defamation-interim-injunction. Please note that any violation of the aforesaid injunction order by you will compel our client to initiate proceedings against you, for disobedience of the injunction granted by the Hon'ble Court as also proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act, 1973. Our client reserves his right to take appropriate action against you for any violation of the orders of the Hon’ble Court.

5.            Attached herewith is a copy of the order dated 16.01.2014 passed in the captioned matter.

Take notice accordingly,

Karanjawala and Company

Background

Legally India’s previous reports on Swatanter Kumar

Download Delhi high court 16 January 2014 order (PDF)

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