New Delhi, January 11: A Delhi Court on Friday concluded the recording of complainant witnesses in the defamation case filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar against woman journalist Priya Ramani who accused him of sexual harassment. Testifying, Akbar's former personal assistant Rachna Goel, his personal assistant Manzar Ali, a communication consultant and Tapan Chaki defended the journalist and said the former Minister's standing had been was tarnished by Ramani's allegations.
"This has damaged his reputation which he has built up over the years of his hard work," Goel told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal. Goel told the court that during her 10 years of working with Akbar, she found him to be a professional and never heard any complaint of inappropriate behaviour against him. MJ Akbar Defamation Case: 'Tweets, Articles Damaging My Reputation', Former Union Minister Tells Court; Next Hearing on Oct 31.
"Akbar has been very professional, very encouraging and has been very helpful in grooming and building up careers," Goel said. Chaki said that Akbar was a gentleman, a hard taskmaster, a man of impeccable credentials and very well mannered. The three witnesses said that they were shocked after reading Ramani's tweet. MJ Akbar Files Criminal Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani Over #MeToo Charges.
As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation.
I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court #metoo
— Priya Ramani (@priyaramani) October 17, 2018
The court will hear arguments on the issue of by summoning Ramani on January 22. The court was hearing the defamation case against Ramani filed by the former Minister of State for External Affairs, a journalist-turned-politician who is now with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Ramani was the first in a long list of women journalists to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment.
The statement of seven witnesses including Akbar were recorded. Akbar's counsel Sandeep Kapur told the court that Ramani's defamatory statements had damaged his image, lowering his esteem in the eyes of the public. A Rajya Sabha member, Akbar has denied all the charges against him as "false, wild and baseless".