A court in Delhi will pronounce its order on former Union minister MJ Akbar’s defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani on February 10, Bar and Bench reported on Monday. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey reserved his judgement in the case on Monday after both the sides completed their arguments.
Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement in India in 2018. He resigned from the Union Council of Ministers after that and filed a defamation case against her.
Ramani, through her lawyer Rebecca John, again told the court that she spoke about her experience for public good. “My defence of truth remains intact in relation to the allegations of sexual harassment against MJ Akbar,” the journalist said.
She added: “Men in high positions who commit the act of sexual harassment cannot be in office. It is in public interest and public good.” During the last hearing on January 27 also, Ramani had told the court that a person accused of sexual harassment cannot be of high reputation.
- MJ Akbar defamation case: Sexual harassment accused cannot be of high reputation, says Priya Ramani
- #MeToo: Priya Ramani ‘ignited flame first’ to harm my reputation, MJ Akbar tells Delhi court
- Priya Ramani case: Shocked how someone can be called predator by power of pen, says Akbar’s counsel
Ramani also countered Akbar’s allegation that she tampered with evidence by deleting her Twitter account, according to Live Law. “Not a single application [was] moved [by Akbar, asking her to reactivate her account],” she said. “Not a single direction given to me, my court. Now they argue that I have tampered with evidence? I have admitted to the evidence.”
The journalist’s lawyer also responded to Akbar’s claim that Ramani did not have CCTV footage to prove her case. “This question can be asked from both sides,” she said. “If I didn’t do it, why didn’t you do it too? If you want to have such an argument, you should have come up with the records.”
She added: “If I could have accessed the records after 20 years, I would have brought it. But it isn’t possible to get the landline records after so many years. I would have brought it just like I brought other records.”
Ramani told the court that she had produced honest evidence to show that she had been sexually harassed at her workplace.
Akbar has repeatedly said that Ramani’s allegations tarnished his “impeccable” reputation.
A background of the case
After Ramani called out Akbar in a Vogue India article, around 20 more women came forward and accused him of sexual misconduct over several years during his journalistic career.
The Patiala House Court summoned Ramani as an accused in January 2019 after Akbar filed the defamation case against her. In February 2019, she was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000.
In May 2019, Akbar denied meeting Ramani in a hotel room where she alleged he had sexually harassed her. He also dismissed all the information that Ramani provided about the meeting.
Ramani told the Delhi court in September 2020 that she deserved to be acquitted as she shared her experience in good faith and encouraged other women to speak out against sexual harassment. Her lawyer Rebecca John, while submitting the final arguments in the case, said that Ramani had proved her allegations against Akbar with solid evidence, which were also confirmed by multiple women.
In November, Ramani and Akbar had rejected the court’s proposal for mutual settlement in the case. On November 18, the Delhi High Court had transferred Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja, who presided over the case. He was replaced by Pandey.