The Delhi High Court today refrained from staying a trial court order to record evidence during the summer vacation in a Rs one-crore defamation case against activist Vrinda Grover and another woman by former TERI chief R K Pachauri. The high court initially told the lawyers for Grover and the other woman to ring up and request the local commissioner, appointed for recording the evidence, to accommodate them by re-scheduling the process slated to begin from June 19. After the lawyers said that the local commissioner could not be reached over the phone, Justice Sunil Gaur issued notice to Pachauri, three media houses and the Centre on Grover’s plea seeking their response by June 16. The high court said it will not pass any order without hearing the other side and did not grant a stay on the trial court’s decision.
Advocate Anupam Srivastava, appearing for Grover, said his client was not opposed to recording of the evidence and that she only wanted it to be postponed to July. In the petition filed through Srivastava, Grover has said that the trial court has listed the matter for recording of evidence between June 19 to June 30 despite she and her counsel not being availability. In April 2016, few months after the charge sheet against him was filed in the alleged sexual harassment case lodged by an ex-colleague, Pachauri slapped a civil suit against Grover and the other woman for allegedly making defamatory statements against him outside the court room to the media in connection with the case.
The other woman had also made similar accusations against him but after filing of the original complaint. He has sought damages of Rs one crore for “false and frivolous allegations” which, he argues, could prejudice his case. Pachauri has also made three media houses, as well as the information and broadcasting ministry, parties to the suit filed before a Patiala House court here and has sought a permanent injunction against any reporting on statements of the two women. He had on February 26 secured an order from a Saket court here making it mandatory that the media houses have to publish or telecast the coverage of the case with a title that “in any court the allegations have not been proved and they may not be correct”.
The interim order had further said, “When such information is published in any page of a magazine or report then it should be in middle of the page in bold letters and it should be five times larger than the font in which the article is being published.”