Can #MeToo Allegations expressed on social media sites be Legally Viable?
Charanjeet Kaur 30 Oct 2018

Can #MeToo Allegations expressed on social media sites be Legally Viable?

The #MeToo movement has created quite a stir across the Indian entertainment and media industry. The year-old movement that has long failed to take root in India has today become one of the most important conversations to come out of 2018 so far.

But are the accusations under the #MeToo campaign — mostly expressed on the social media sites — legally viable?

In this connection, Advocate and cyber law expert, Pavan Duggal, stress that the evidence found on social media sites is acceptable in court, but it needs to be attested by someone who is seeking to present it as evidence.

As long as a certificate is produced, along with such evidence that verifies its authenticity, it is admissible in court as evidence, and is at par with any other kind of physical evidence,” advocate Duggal says. He further says that considering that “matter (evidence) can also be erased from these sites, it is important for stakeholders to capture it, either as a physical copy or a digital one, at the appropriate time.”

Also, sharing her views on the #MeToo movement, Karuna Nundy one of the India’s recognized champions of women’s rights and Supreme Court lawyer says that a victim of sexual harassment must preserve the messages and pictures, if any, as proof of their allegations on the original device it was sent to. However, lawyer Nundy also says that one should garner enough support in the workplace before making allegations against the harasser.

Nundy also added that the victims of sexual harassment can opt for three legal options to get justice. The three options are:

  1. The victims could either seek a criminal remedy,
  2. Depending on the degree of the misdemeanor, the victims could seek a civil remedy or compensation,
  3. The victims could seek punitive measures against the harasser.

Another lawyer, Rutuja Shinde, while talking about the legal viability of the sexual assault claims stresses that a victim who gets slapped with a defamation case may want to back out from the battle and may consider out-of-court-settlement. But if they do, it would be best to respond to the defamation charge and that can be done by having the right lawyers on your side, who are ready to offer general legal counselling and services – to help those who are raising their voice against their harassers.

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