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Court notices on plea by intern

New Delhi, July 21: The Supreme Court today sought responses from Justice Swatanter Kumar, the Centre and certain media organisations in connection with a former law intern’s plea for transfer of the defamation suit the judge has filed after she accused him of sexual harassment.

The former intern has argued she cannot expect a fair trial in Delhi High Court because of the clout enjoyed by Justice Kumar, a retired Supreme Court judge who was associated with the high court for 23 years as lawyer and judge.

Justice Kumar has sought Rs 6 crore in damages from the former intern and certain media houses.

“We will have to go by the likelihood of the girl’s apprehensions. Not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done,” Chief Justice R.M. Lodha said. The others on the bench were Justices Kurien Joseph and R.F. Nariman.

Senior counsel Indira Jaising, representing the former intern, told the court that while no senior lawyer was willing to take up the woman’s case, 22 prominent lawyers had appeared on behalf of Justice Kumar before Delhi High Court on July 11.

Justice Kumar is now chairperson of the National Green Tribunal.

“During his judicial career, he has obviously developed good relations with his colleagues, particularly lawyers and judges,” Jaising said.

She said her client was not arguing there would be “an institutional bias” in Justice Kumar’s favour but only “reasonably apprehends that there is likely to be” such a bias.

According to the petitioner, she now lives and works in Bangalore, so it would be “inconvenient” for her to attend proceedings in Delhi.