Expression of a victim’s trauma or experience is his/her fundamental right which can only be curtained if it falls under 4 broad categories: Read on to know categories | Alleged sexual harassment case of a ScoopWhoop employee

Patiala House Courts: Preeti Parewa, SCJ/CCJ/ARC, NDD, while addressing the alleged case of sexual harassment against the CEO of ScoopWhoop, wherein it sought an interim injunction, Court expressed that,

Expression of a victim’s trauma or experience is his / her fundamental right which can only be curtained it is falls under four broad categories i.e. “libel, slander, defamation”, “contempt of court”, “offends against decency or morality” and “undermines the security or tends to overthrow the State”. 

In the present matter, the plaintiff company submitted that defendant 1 was an employee/consultant in “UNSCRIPTED” with his last contract ending on 30-9-2021. Further, it was stated that defendant 2 was an employee of the company and Chief Executive Officer of “ScoopWhoop Media Private Limited” and its Director and Founding Member.

A sexual harassment complaint was filed by defendant 1 against defendant 2 and his wife, which was sub0judice before the Grievance Committee constituted under the POSH Act.

Adding to the above, it was noted that defendant 1 had published/circulated regarding the allegations of sexual harassment through Instagram posts and YouTube which may damage the reputation of the plaintiff company and hamper the fair enquiry.

Plaintiff company, as an interim relief sought grant of temporary injunction in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendants restraining their associates, agents, representatives, correspondents, officers, employees or any other person, entity, in print or electronics media or on social media or via internet otherwise from writing, speaking, content creation, publishing, republishing, circulating, carrying out any reports or articles or posts or reporting of any kind, directly or indirectly or in any manner pertaining to the allegations against each other and/or any other person/plaintiff’s organization pertaining to pending complaint and allegations by the defendant 1 qua alleged incident on intervening night till pendency of suit.

In view of the present application, a notice was issued to both the defendants.

Challenging the application, defendant 1 submitted that the complaint was filed before the Internal Complaints Committee of ScoopWhoop wherein no action had been taken without any consent of defendant 1, the complaint was transferred to the plaintiff company.

It was also submitted that the plaintiff could not prima facie establish that there was a loss of subscribers or goodwill or reputation of the plaintiff company which was formed 4 months and had hardly been able to generate reputation in its favour. Further, it was added that the balance of convenience did not lie in favour of the plaintiff company which was a separate entity and the sexual harassment complaint had not been made to the said company.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Court firstly mentioned the three main principles that govern the grant/refusal of injunction:

(a) prima facie case;

(b) balance of convenience; and

(c) irreparable injury;

Elaborating further, in light of the background of the present case, Bench found that the plaintiff company was in no way injured with the acts of defendant 1 since the complaint was not filed before the plaintiff company nor was defendant 1 employed with the plaintiff company.

Prima facie the alleged posts/contents/video in question did not mention the name of the plaintiff company nor were obscene/derogatory/ defamatory.

Court did not find that the alleged posts fell under the category of libel, slander, defamation, contempt of court, offends against decency or morality and undermines the security or tends to overthrow the State.

Hence, no relief was granted to the plaintiff company and the application was dismissed. [WhoopScoop (P) Ltd. v. Samdish Bhatia, CS SCJ 100/22, decided on 14-2-2022]

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