The Delhi High Court has asked an Instagram account holder, who posted sexual harassment allegations by a woman against artist Subodh Gupta, whether they want to represent the anonymous woman in the defamation case filed by Subodh Gupta.
The anonymous woman has yet not been 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 #MeToo movement, has been kept secret on court's directions.
A bench of Justice RS Endlaw on Wednesday asked the account holder to inform by February 4 why they were interested in protecting the identity of the woman, and whether they would like to implead them in representative capacity on behalf of all the anonymous women who had shared their stories through the Instagram account.
The bench further asked whether the account would reveal the names of all those women so that they can be impleaded as parties.
It added that the issue of maintaining anonymity, or holding an in-camera trial to further the same, will be decided at the later stage, post impleadment of parties.
The court's directions came after the counsel for the account holder 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.
"If defendant Number 1 (account user) is interested in providing identity of the said person then it should either represent such person(s) or such person(s) should be impleaded as a party to the suit...," the judge said.
The account holder 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.
Subodh 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".