MeToo: Scribe seeks acquittal in Akbar’s grievance, says freedom of speech intrinsic to democracy

New Delhi, September 19

Journalist Priya Ramani on Saturday sought acquittal in a prison defamation grievance filed towards her by former union minister MJ Akbar, saying freedom of speech and expression is intrinsic to a democratic society and her accusations of sexual harassment towards him have been her fact.

In the wake of the #MeToo marketing campaign, Ramani in 2018 accused Akbar of sexual misconduct together with her round 20 years in the past, when he was a journalist.

Akbar resigned as a Union minister on October 17, 2018.

Ramani, who concluded her arguments on Saturday within the grievance filed towards her by Akbar, instructed the courtroom by way of her lawyer that the #MeToo marketing campaign was began to appropriate the structural unsuitable, which was persevering with for lengthy.

“The #MeToo movement gave a platform to thousands of women all across the world to come forward and share their stories of sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement was started to correct the structural wrong.”

“Freedom of speech and expression is critical and intrinsic to democracy. Ramani was a small part of a large movement. Hundreds and thousands of women participated in the #MeToo movement. I (Ramani) have proved my case and I deserve to be acquitted,” senior advocate Rebecca John, showing for Ramani, instructed Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja.

What Ramani had stated towards Akbar was “her truth, said in public good”, the lawyer stated.

In response to the complainant’s argument as to “why did Ramani not raise her voice before”, John stated there was a “culture of silence” when the incident befell.

“She couldn’t communicate up as there was a tradition of silence. Ghazala Wahab (a journalist and a witness within the case, who too have accused Akbar of sexual misconduct whereas she was working underneath him) identified that there was no mechanism for sexual harassment on the office.

“The Vishakha guidelines (to prevent sexual harassment at workplace) did not exist in 1993. Even after the guidelines came into place, the judiciary and the media took a long time to implement those,” she stated.

John added that “silence cannot refute Ramani’s truth. She is not filing any FIR for the court to test the delay of the FIR on the ground of credibility”.

“Her silence has been adequately explained by her. There was a long delay in the implementation of the Vishakha guidelines, Ramani cannot be made to bear the brunt of it,” she stated.

Ramani contested the status of Akbar by way of her personal proof, by way of that of Wahab and 14 different ladies, who accused him of sexual harassment at office within the wake of the #MeToo motion.

The courtroom will once more hear the matter on October 13.

Ramani had earlier instructed the courtroom that she was “targeted selectively” by way of a prison defamation grievance by Akbar “to halt the avalanche of allegations of sexual misconduct that came out against him” within the wake of the #MeToo motion in 2018.

Akbar had instructed the courtroom that Ramani had defamed him by utilizing adjectives reminiscent of “media’s biggest predator” to explain him, which harmed his status.

The BJP chief has denied all of the allegations of sexual harassment towards him.

He had earlier instructed the courtroom that the allegations levelled towards him in an article within the “Vogue” journal and the tweets that adopted have been defamatory on the face of it because the complainant had deposed these to be false and imaginary and that an “immediate damage” was brought about to him as a result of “false” allegations by Ramani.

Ramani had earlier instructed the courtroom that her “disclosure” of the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar had come at “a great personal cost” and he or she had “nothing to gain” from it.

She had stated her transfer would empower ladies to talk up and make them perceive their rights on the office.

Several ladies got here up with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar whereas they have been working as journalists underneath him.

The former Union minister has dismissed the allegations as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”. PTI


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