Journalist Priya Ramani told a Delhi court on Saturday that her allegations of sexual harassment against former Union minister MJ Akbar were not to defame him but disclosed for the “public good”, reported Bar and Bench. The court was hearing a criminal defamation case Akbar brought against Ramani for accusing him of sexually harassing her in a hotel room in 1993.
Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Ramani, made the submissions during the final hearing. “A true imputation made in the public good is not defamation,” John told the court during a virtual hearing. “It is not defamation to make an imputation on the character of another when it is made in good faith for the protection of his or other’s interest.”
“Priya Ramani’s alleged defamatory tweets and the Vogue article were her truth,” John added. “I am saying this is my [Ramani’s] truth... it is the truth, is in good faith, touching public good.”
The court will hear the matter again on September 8.
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 during the #MeToo movement, in a series of tweets. Soon after this, around 20 more women accused Akbar of sexual misconduct over several years during his journalistic career.
In February 2019, Ramani was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000. In May 2019, Akbar had denied meeting Ramani in a hotel room where she alleged he had sexually harassed her. He denied all information about the meeting that Ramani had narrated.
In December, journalist and author Ghazala Wahab testified in court as a witness in support of Ramani. She said the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar forced her to quit her job at the Asian Age newspaper while he was the editor.
Akbar has denied all the allegations against him. In February, he told the court that Ramani’s allegations of sexual misconduct were a “figment of her imagination”. Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra said in her closing remarks that the allegations caused the BJP leader “great humiliation” and “irreparably damaged his reputation”.