Justice Swatanter Kumar sends legal notice to newspaper and TV channel

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Judge issues notice to media houses
New Delhi, Jan 12: Justice Swatanter Kumar, a former Supreme Court judge, sent a legal notice to certain media organisations demanding an apology from them within 24 hours for publicising "incredulous and false" allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a law intern.

In the legal notice sent to a leading newspaper and two TV channels, Justice Kumar, currently Chairman of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), said that in the event of them not complying he would be compelled to initiate "appropriate proceedings" against them.

Justice Kumar was reacting to the allegations made by a former law intern that he had sexually harassed her in May 2011 in his office.

He has described the allegations as "some kind of conspiracy".

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, on behalf of Justice Kumar, tonight said in a statement that the newspaper and the two channels "without verifying any facts" have caused great damage to the reputation of the judge.

"We have demanded an apology from them in the next 24 hours failing which civil and criminal actions for defamation and damage will be taken," he said Justice Kumar has accused the media of publicising the complaint of the intern without verifying the genuineness of the allegations.

The notice sent through law firm Karanjawala and company said the complaint against Justice Kumar is part of a "deep-rooted conspiracy" to adversely impact his handling of an extremely sensitive Tribunal.

The timing of the complaint itself is suspect as it comes on the heels of an allegation earlier made by an intern against another judge who has recently resigned, it said, in an apparent reference to the resignation of former apex court judge A K Ganguly as Chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.

Ganguly quit the post early this week in the wake of mounting pressure after a three-member apex court judge panel indicted him over a sexual assault allegation levelled by a law intern, who was also from NUJS, Kolkata.

The notice said Justice Kumar came to know of the allegations first through the media and originally did not recollect who the concerned intern was.

"No attempt of any verfification of the allegations or the authenticity of the alleged complaint was admittedly undertaken by you....before publishing the said news item," the notice said.

He called the allegations "some kind of conspiracy"

It further said the matter regarding the complaint was telecast by the two channels without any independent verification of the genuineness of the allegations and proceeded to name the judge in complete disregard to the truth.

The notice said all allegations made in the intern's complaint are "entirely false and concoted". The allegations are "wild, baseless and scurrilious", it added.

The notice said the "acts and omissions" of the three media organisations are also violative of the norms and canons of "responsible journalism."

"The complaint(by the intern) is a product of a sinister conspiracy to besmirch the reputation(of the judge) and also to demoralise and lower the institution of Justice and interfere with him discharging his official duties," it added.

The intern had chosen to work for hardly a period of three to four days in his office, the notice said, adding but unfortunately an impression has been created that she worked with the judge for a "considerable period of time".

PTI

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