Don’t misuse #MeToo: Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday said the #MeToo movement cannot be misused by anybody to settle personal scores. The court also asked third parties to refrain firing from a victim’s shoulders. The strong observations were made by a single-judge bench of Justice Shahrukh Kathawalla while hearing the defamation suit filed by film producer Vikas Bahl against his former partners – Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane.

“No one can misuse the #MeToo movement to settle personal scores,” Justice Kathawalla observed. This comes after the advocate appearing for the victim apprised Justice Kathawalla that his client does not want to pursue the matter further. “My client has decided not to contest this matter in any of the forums. She does not want to pursue this matter, though she still stands by whatever allegations she has made against Bahl,” said senior counsel Navroz Seervai, who represented the victim.

Having heard the submission, Justice Kathawalla  said, “When the victim herself does not wish to pursue the case, I believe, third parties should not use the shoulders of the victim to fire salvos at anyone.” “If third parties continue to act in such a manner, then the entire movement will have no meaning,” the court observed further.

Justice Kathawalla accordingly directed Seervai to submit statements of the victim, who even refused to appear before the court, to the effect that she does not want to further pursue the case. The bench accordingly adjourned the hearing till next week. Bahl, through his counsels Janak Dwarkadas and Sharan Jagtian, had dragged former partners Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwani, and the victim to the court, for defaming him. The victim had, last year, claimed she was sexually harassed by Bahl way back in 2015 in Goa during the shooting of Bombay Velvet film.

The allegations resurfaced recently when the #MeToo movement gathered pace in India after several celebrities and senior journalists were named and shamed by women. Kashyap and Motwani had supported the victim and had also given statements against Bahl. Thus, he sought a compensation of Rs 10 crore.

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