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Editors Guild expresses concern over court gag order


New Delhi, Jan 17 :

The Editors Guild of India has expressed serious concern about a high court gag order on coverage of allegations of sexual harassment against a former Supreme Court judge and called it a “mockery of the rule of law”.Editors-Guild-of-India

The Editors Guild of India said that it notes with serious concern the gag order issued by the Delhi High Court restraining all newspapers and media organisations from a complete and professional coverage of the allegations of sexual harassment made by a former intern against Justice Swatanter Kumar when he was a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

“The order makes a mockery of the rule of law and the open and fair justice system by setting different and overly restrictive standards for the coverage of such allegations against judges,” said a statement.

The Delhi High Court Thursday restrained the media from further publishing or telecasting allegations of sexual harassment against former Supreme Court judge Swatanter Kumar by a former law intern. The media was directed to limit reporting to court orders only.

The guild said “it is strange that a high court should pass such a restraining order in relation to the coverage of the contents of an affidavit submitted to the Chief Justice of India even when the Supreme Court is seized of the matter”.

The group of top editors said that in the context of the current national debate on protecting women against sexual harassment, “cases of this type raise important public issues of how to facilitate and deal with complaints by harassed women who may feel intimidated even while protecting reputations in the face of possible baseless and vexatious allegations”.

“Complete and fair professional coverage of the case without critical information being held back from the public is vital for an informed debate,” it added.

The guild went on to say that several cases of sexual harassment and offences are reported across the country routinely with no prejudice to either the accused or to the judicial process, and to “single out judges for special protection is invidious”.