During hearing of defamation case against Anurag Kashyap, Court observes #MeToo cannot be misused

On 18th October 2018, news had surfaced that filmmaker Vikas Bahl, accused of sexually harassing a former worker had approached the Bombay High Court with a defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore against his former Phantom Films partners Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane for defamation. Before suing for defamation, Bahl had sent both Kashyap and Motwane legal notices urging them to withdraw their statements and issue an apology.

The court had also directed that the victim woman who had made allegations against Bahl of sexual harassment and the fourth partner in Phantom Films, Madhu Mantena also to be made parties in the defamation suit.

The complaint read:

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“The Plaintiff (Bahl) states that Defendant Nos. 1 and 2 (Kashyap and Motwane) taking advantage of the ongoing “#Metoo” movement in the country, published false, malicious, unsubstantiated imputations, allegations and statements against the Plaintiff through their Twitter accounts and other social media platforms”.

On 19th, during the hearing of the defamation case filed by Vikas Bahl, the woman who had claimed that she was sexually harassed by Bahl, submitted in the Bombay High Court that she would not like to file a complaint against Bahl in the matter.

According to Bar and Bench, the matter was heard in chambers by Justice SJ Kathawalla at 5 pm. Although the victim was not present in Court, she was represented by Senior Counsel Navroz Seervai, who submitted that his client did not want to file a complaint against Vikas Bahl.

The Court observed that the #MeToo movement cannot be misused by anybody and that nobody can use the victim’s shoulder to fire allegations of sexual harassment.

In Bahl’s complaint, he has asserted that Anurag Kashyap is taking advantage of the #MeToo movement to settle scores with him. It also states that no criminal complaint has been filed against him by the victim and Bahl has not even been called upon for any investigation with respect to the alleged sexual harassment. Bahl in his complaint has also asserted that the victim, who had accused him of sexual harassment continued to work at Phantom Films and “had a purely professional relationship” even after the alleged incident took place.

Vikas Bahl, the partner of controversial director Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films, was accused by a woman claiming to be an employee of their movie venture. The woman had claimed that Vikas Bahl had sexually harassed her during movie promotions. She has accused Bahl of trying to undress her and violated her by putting his hands inside her dress. However, she claimed that Vikas Bahl got agitated for her resistance and ended up masturbating on her.

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