A former colleague of ex-Union Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar told a Delhi court on Monday that his reputation had been “destroyed” and “damaged irreparably” by journalist Priya Ramani’s allegations of sexual misconduct against him, PTI reported.
Joyeeta Basu, the editor of the Sunday Guardian, told the court on Monday that Ramani posted her tweets “intentionally with a purpose to harm” Akbar’s “reputation and goodwill”. “I have seen tweets by Priya Ramani dated October 10, 2018 and October 13, 2018,” Basu told the court. “I was overcome by doubts but I know from the number of questions raised by people, I know personally that his reputation has been destroyed and damaged irreparably.”
In a Vogue India article published last year, Ramani described how an acclaimed newspaper editor called her for a job interview to his “plush south Mumbai hotel” when she was 23 and he was 43. The editor – who she claimed on October 8 was Akbar – did not meet Ramani in the hotel lobby and insisted that she meet him in his room. There, he offered her a drink. Though she refused, he drank vodka himself. She alleged that he went on to sing old Hindi songs to her and at one point, asked her to sit close to him.
Akbar filed a case against Ramani last month after she said that he was the acclaimed editor she mentioned in the Vogue India article. Though nearly 20 women have so far accused him of sexual misconduct, the former minister has called all the allegations “wild”, “baseless” and a “sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe”. Akbar also hinted that there was a political motivation for the sexual harassment allegations as they have come up months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Basu claimed that she did not hear anything “untoward” about Akbar despite working with him for 20 years. He was a “public figure who was held in high esteem”, she contended. “Akbar has been perfectly professional in his dealings with me,” Basu said. “He has always been a tough taskmaster, a thorough professional and a brilliant teacher.”
The complaint had listed six witnesses – Joyeeta Basu, Veenu Sandal, Syed Habibur Rehman, Tapan Chaki, Sunil Gujral and Manzar Ali, The Indian Express reported. The court posted the matter for further hearing on December 7.