The anonymous Instagram account Scene and Herd (@herdsceneand) has achieved a settlement with Indian artist Subodh Gupta, who sued the administrators for defamation last year. According to the Indian digital newspaper ThePrint, Scene and Herd’s lawyers informed the court that they would withdraw the posts and allegations. In return, the account will retain its anonymity and Gupta will drop his demands for monetary damages.
In 2018, allegations of sexual harassment against Gupta were posted on the Instagram account, which aims to spur the #MeToo movement in India’s art community. The following year, the artist moved forward with a civil suit in Delhi High Court and demanded around Rs 5 crore (~$700,000) in damages. In a controversial move, Gupta had also asked that Facebook, which owns Instagram, reveal the identities of Scene and Herd’s administrators and take down the relevant posts. Last month, the defendants gave their first statements in the Delhi High Court, where they cited the importance of anonymity in order to maintain the platform’s neutrality and protect themselves against retaliation.
Though Scene and Herd complied with Gupta’s request that the posts be removed, their ability to remain anonymous — one of the most contentious points of the case — is viewed as a victory.
“I actually do think that it was important for the court to recognise that anonymity for a person in such a case is significant. The court passed an order allowing the person to file the reply anonymously,” Abhik Chimni, who represented the account’s owners, told ThePrint. “This is important because in future cases or in sensitive cases like this one, it might allow people to come forward.”