#MeToo campaign cannot become a 'Sullying #UToo' campaign forever

Zulfiqar Ahman Khan Vs Quintillion Business Media Pvt Ltd and Ors

Delhi HC

09/05/2019

CS (OS) 642/2018

About/from the judgment:

While recognising the Right to be forgotten and the Right to be left alone as inherent aspects of Right to Privacy, the Delhi High Court has observed that the #MeToo campaign cannot become a `Sullying #UToo’ campaign forever.

 

The observation forms part of an order passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh in a suit seeking to restrain news portal, The Quint, from publishing two articles against the Plaintiff, Zulfiqar Ahman Khan. The two articles were published on the basis of three anonymous harassment complaints received Quint, against Khan, as part of the #MeToo campaign.

 

Khan argued that he underwent enormous torture and personal grief due to the baseless allegations made against him. He submitted that The Quint ought to have given him sufficient notice prior to the publication of the articles and avoided putting a one-sided account.

 

In December 2018, when the Defendants (The Quint) entered an appearance before Court, they submitted that without prejudice to their rights, the two articles would be pulled down.

 

Taking the said statement on record, the matter was posted for the conclusion of arguments by the Court.

 

Meanwhile, the contents of the two articles were picked up by another platform by the name www.newsdogapp.com which also attributed the source of the content as The Quint.

 

Khan argued that his personal and professional life had been hampered irreparably and further damage was likely to be caused if appropriate relief was not granted against the republication of these two articles.

 

The Court held that since the original source of the publication had already pulled down the articles pursuant to the proceedings of this Court, the republication of the same by attributing it to The Quint or other Defendants in the case, would not be permissible.

 

The three individuals have chosen to remain anonymous and the publisher of the articles has already agreed to pull down the said two articles, further re-publication of the same is liable to be restrained, it said.

 

“(The Plaintiff) has a right to ensure that the articles are not published on multiple electronic/digital platforms as that would create a permanent atmosphere of suspicion and animosity towards the Plaintiff and also severely prejudice his personal and professional life.”

 

Further, stating that if re-publication is permitted to go on continuously, the Plaintiff’s rights would be severely jeopardised, the Court remarked,

 

“The campaign also ought not to become an unbridled and unending campaign against an individual with other electronic/digital portals or platforms picking up the pulled down content through archived material. The #MeToo campaign cannot become a `Sullying #UToo’ campaign forever.”

 

The Court, therefore, recognized the Plaintiff’s `Right to be forgotten’ and the `Right to be left alone’ as inherent part of the Right to privacy, and directed that any republication of the content of the two articles or any extracts excerpts, as well as its modified versions, on any print or digital/electronic platform shall stand restrained during the pendency of the suit.

 

The matter would be heard next on August 1.

Read the Judgment

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