Don't Use #MeToo Victim to Settle Scores, Says HC in Defamation Case Against Anurag Kashyap & Co.

While the clean chit to director Vikas Bahl has come up as good news for the makers of Super 30, it has received mixed reactions from the film fraternity.

Mumbai: The victim should not be used to settle personal scores, the Bombay High Court said on Friday while hearing Bollywood filmmaker Vikas Bahl’s defamation case against former partners Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwani and Madhu Mantena.

Bahl has sought a direction to his former partners in the now disbanded Phantom Films to refrain from speaking to the media or posting on social media about the sexual harassment charge levelled against him by a woman employee. Bahl has sought Rs 10 crore in damages from them for “ruining his reputation”.

During the hearing on Friday, the High Court had asked for the woman to be made a respondent in the plea, PTI reported. Appearing for the woman, senior counsel Narvoz Serwai told the court that she was not desirous of being a part of the litigation. "She is not willing to pursue the case too. She does not wish to be embroiled in this," Serwai said.

Justice SJ Kathawalla then said that if the woman is not willing to pursue the case, then no one should speak about it. "The whole movement is for the victims to come forward. No one should use them and fire gun from their shoulders. There have to be guidelines for such incidents. Otherwise, it will be misused and abused and we don’t know where this will end up,” the judge said.

Bahl had claimed that the girl in question is being manipulated by Kashyap and others in order to defame him due to professional rivalry and hence should be a party to the litigation.

Representing Bahl, the petitioner, advocate Hitesh Jain said that if the victim does not want to file a complaint, it is baseless to defame his client. Media should, thus, refrain from conducting trial, he added.

Meanwhile, a statement made by Phantom Films through their lawyer stated that the incident was brought to their notice in March 2017 after which they had asked the victim to file a complaint or approach the police, but nothing was done.

The court has directed the woman to submit a signed statement on October 23 stating that she does not wish to pursue the case.

Bahl, who directed Kangana Ranaut-starrer 'Queen', has claimed Kashyap and Motwane orchestrated a campaign against him.

Kashyap, Motwane, Bahl and producer Madhu Mantena had established Phantom Films in 2011. The company's productions include Lootera, Hasee Toh Phasee and Queen.

Soon after Bahl was named in the #MeToo campaign, Kashyap and Motwane dissolved Phantom Films.

An unidentified woman employee of the production company alleged that Bahl sexually assaulted her in Goa during a promotional tour for the movie 'Bombay Velvet' in 2015.