Journalist Priya Ramani on Wednesday pleaded not guilty in a Delhi court in a defamation lawsuit brought against her by former Union minister MJ Akbar, PTI reported. The court framed defamation charges against the journalist on Wednesday.

Akbar had filed the case in October after Ramani published a series of tweets containing allegations of sexual harassment against him. The Patiala House Court had on January 29 issued summons to Ramani. On February 25, the court granted bail to Ramani on a surety of Rs 10,000 and asked her to appear before it again on April 10.

However, on Wednesday, the court permanently exempted Ramani from personal appearances during future hearings. It said the case will be heard next on May 4.

Though nearly 20 women accused Akbar of sexual misconduct over several years last October, 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 had come up months before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He, however, had stepped down as the minister of state for external affairs after the allegations.