New Delhi, December 5: Journalist Priya Ramani on Saturday told a Delhi court hearing a criminal defamation complaint filed by former union minister M J Akbar against her that he did not have a 'sterling reputation' as claimed by him. Ramani, who had accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago, stated this through senior advocate Rebecca John during the final hearing of the matter.
She claimed before the court that a number of women have accused Akbar of sexual misconduct and, by his own account, he was having a consensual relationship while he was married to someone else, “which was not a sterling reputation”.
Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. #MeToo: MJ Akbar, Journalist Priya Ramani Refuse Settlement in Defamation Complaint Case.
Ramani had said the allegations against Akbar, made in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018, were her truth and were made in the public good.
“He (Akbar) himself says he was in a consensual relationship (with one of his juniors, who, during the #MeToo movement, accused him of rape) which was hampering his family life. Is this the conduct of the man with a sterling reputation? As a man who is married to someone else, he is having a consensual relationship...
“At least 15-16 women tweeted against Akbar. Akbar was, according to himself, in a relationship with a junior who was 20 years younger... this is not sterling reputation,” John told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey.
She claimed in the court that many women had made allegations against Akbar but he chose to file the case against only Ramani. “He knew there were other women... he has admitted before the court about reading an article which carried allegations by several women,” she said. As the hearing remained inconclusive, the court will take up the matter on December 10.
Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani on October 15, 2018. He had 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.
Akbar has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment made against him by the women who came forward during the #MeToo campaign. 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.