The Delhi High Court on Friday completed the cross-examination of witnesses appearing for former Union minister MJ Akjbar in connection with the criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani. The court will now hear the matter again on August 23, PTI reported.
Ramani had first made allegations about an incident of sexual harassment by an acclaimed newspaper editor in an article in Vogue India in 2017. She identified Akbar as that editor in October 2018.
Two witnesses, journalist Joyeeta Basu and Akbar’s personal assistant Manzar Ali, appeared before the court. “He has been a perfect gentleman to me,” Bar and Bench quoted Basu as saying. “In office, he was a complete professional and a tough taskmaster with everyone. He was held in high esteem in office.” Basu also said that Akbar had a flawless reputation, adding that Ramani’s “scandalous tweets” had embarrassed her and lowered Akbar’s reputation in her eyes.
Basu claimed that she had no personal knowledge of the episodes that Ramani or journalist Ghazala Wahab had spoken about. She added that the former Union minister had thanked her after she came out in support of him and offered to help if he chose to seek legal recourse.
Ali said that he had signed the certificate under Section 65B of the Evidence Act after understanding its contents, adding that he was unaware of browsing on incognito mode on a computer from which he took printouts of tweets and other links on Akbar’s instructions.
The former Union minister has also been cross-examined by the defence in the case.
Soon after Ramani’s allegations, around 20 more women accused Akbar of sexual misconduct over several years during his journalistic career. In February, Ramani was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000. On May 20, Akbar had denied meeting Ramani in a hotel room where she alleged he had sexually harassed her.