A Delhi court on Wednesday deferred the judgement till February 17 on former Union minister MJ Akbar’s defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, of Bar and Bench reported.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey said he received the written submissions late. “I’m adjourning the matter,” he added.
Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement in India in 2018. He had resigned from the Union Council of Ministers after that and filed a defamation case against her.
Throughout the hearing, Ramani, through her lawyer Rebecca John, had maintained that she spoke about her experience for public good. During the last hearing on January 27, Ramani had told the court that a person accused of sexual harassment cannot be of high reputation.
Akbar has repeatedly said that Ramani’s allegations tarnished his “impeccable” reputation.
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A timeline of the case
Ramani had first made the 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 during the #MeToo movement in 2018.
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.