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December 3, 2020

Artist Subodh Gupta, Instagram Account Holder Settled Defamation Dispute

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New Delhi: Artist Subodh Gupta and an Instagram account holder, who had posted sexual harassment allegations made by several women against him, informed the Delhi High Court Tuesday that they have settled their dispute and the defamatory content would be removed from the site.

The court, noting that the parties have reached an amicable settlement, decreed the defamation suit in favour of the artist and against the holder of the Instagram account, ‘@herdsceneand‘.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw noted that the Instagram account holder, who has maintained anonymity, will withdraw the defamatory content posted by him/ her and also expressed regret.

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The court had earlier asked the account holder whether she/he wanted to represent the anonymous victim in the defamation suit filed by Gupta.

Senior advocate Akhil Sibal and lawyer Abhik Chimni, representing the account holder, apprised the court that they have reached a settlement with Gupta and handed it over the documents.

Senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Gupta, said he was agreeable to the settlement and that no further removals or blocking of URLs, relating to defamatory posts/articles/ contents, were needed than those which are already affected.

Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, representing Google, said in pursuance to court’s earlier directions it has removed the URLs carrying the defamatory content but the articles were still available on the host websites of certain media houses and other search engines and this would affect its business.

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The victim was not arrayed as a party in the case, while the identity of the person running the Instagram account, which published the allegations in the wake of the #MeToo movement, was kept secret on the court’s directions.

The account holder had earlier said that she/he was only a “whistleblower”, a neutral platform which intended to bring out the instances of sexual misconduct and harassment in the art fraternity, as part of the #MeToo movement.

The account holder had also stated that in the absence of an internal committee to deal with such instances, the victims of sexual harassment wrote to it about their personal experiences, knowing that the anonymity would protect them from retaliation in the hands of influential members of the art fraternity.

Gupta had filed a defamation suit against ‘Herdsceneand’ and others last year, following the publication of anonymous sexual harassment allegations against him.

In the written statement filed before the court, ‘Herdsceneand’ has claimed that she/he has been a part of the arts fraternity for over 10 years, both in India and abroad, and “cared deeply about the space of women in this profession”.

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