New Delhi, January 7
Former union minister MJ Akbar told a Delhi court on Thursday that “false, defamatory statement” by journalist Priya Ramani against him alleging sexual misconduct led other persons and the media repeating them.
Akbar made the submission before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar through senior advocate Geeta Luthra during the final hearing in a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct 20 years ago when he was a journalist.
Ramani had made an allegation of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018 while he was travelling as a minister.
Luthra said it was Ramani’s tweets that became the basis of other articles.
“False, defamatory statement by her lead to repeat by other persons and media. She started this. That’s why immediately after my coming back, I (Akbar) made the complaint against her,” she said.
She said due process was available to women and that Ramani had “no desire to go for due process”.
“When Ramani says there was no availability of due process, it is incorrect. What they are saying is you can do a parallel trial without going to the courts and the legal system provides to redressal,” she said.
She added that Ramani had “no desire to go for due process. There was no interest in due process. It is much easier to malign someone, defame someone on social media. It is impermissible”.
Luthra reiterated that Akbar had an “unblemished reputation” that was destroyed by Ramani.
“The common thread in all our evidence and theirs is that Akbar has a reputation and that reputation is unblemished till Ramani made her averments. It is not disputed,” Luthra said.
The proceedings remained inconclusive and the court will further hear the matter on January 12.
Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani on October 15, 2018.
He resigned as union minister on October 17, 2018.
Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by calling him with adjectives such as ‘media’s biggest predator’ that harmed his reputation.
He has denied all allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during the #MeToo campaign against him.
Over 20 women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar while they were working as journalists under him.
He termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them. PTI