Journalist Priya Ramani told a Delhi court against a defamation complaint filed by former union minister MJ Akbar that her article about the alleged sexual harassment had been “deliberately” and “mischievously” misunderstood.
Ms. Ramani, who accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct about 20 years ago, explained so during the final hearing by senior attorney Rebecca John.
She claimed she was telling the truth about the good faith allegations made against Akbar in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018, which were public interest and not defamatory.
MJ Akbar had filed the complaint against Priya Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct as a journalist about two decades ago.
The court submitted the matter for further hearing on December 14th.
Ms. John said only the first four paragraphs of the article in the magazine were about MJ Akbar and the rest were about other male bosses.
“(MJ) Akbar has created unnecessary controversy in court by misreading an article as it wasn’t written. The Vogue article was deliberately and mischievously misread. Ramani has explained the context that only the first four Paragraphs refer to Akbar and not the entire article, “Ms. John told Ravindra Kumar Pandey, the additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM).
The senior attorney said that if MJ Akbar claimed to have a “good reputation” then her testimony should be seen in the context of her reputation.
“(Priya) Ramani is a credible witness, a respected and respected journalist who holds senior positions in the news media who did not seek to waste court time in any way by openly admitting the publication of her tweet and article Credibility stands without a doubt.
“I also say that Ramani was not only able to prove the truth, but also because the way she told her story was not inconsiderate. She is not the only one who came out with her painful story against Akbar” , John submitted.
She went on to say that Ramani admired MJ Akbar’s work during his childhood and that there was no old enmity with him.
“She was only 23 years old when the incident occurred, so she was so young that she didn’t know how to say no. Ramani’s tweets cannot be read in isolation from all of these other tweets and stories that were being made at the same time were. ” Senior Counsel said.
Ms. John said Ms. Ramani had also been attacked on the grounds that reporting the allegations had been delayed but that there was no redress mechanism in place in 1993-94 when the incident occurred.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace is a matter of public interest. It has been recognized as a violation of the fundamental rights of women. I have told my truth and told it in good faith, and my truth relates to the public interest. It is not. ” defamatory, “she said.
Ms. Ramani had previously said that MJ Akbar did not have a “good reputation” claimed by him. She had alleged in court that a number of women had alleged sexual misconduct and that Akbar said he had a consensual relationship while married to someone else, which was not a good reputation.
“He (MJ Akbar) himself says he has a consensual relationship (with one of his juniors who accused him of rape during the #MeToo movement) that hampered his family life. Is this the man’s behavior with an As a man who is married to someone else, he has a friendly relationship … “
“At least 15-16 women have tweeted against Akbar. Akbar, in his opinion, was in a relationship with a junior who was 20 years younger … that’s not a good reputation,” Ms. John said.
She had alleged in court that many women had made allegations against MJ Akbar, but he had decided to take the case against Ms. Ramani only. “He knew there were other women … he admitted in court that he read an article that contained allegations made by several women,” she said.
MJ Akbar filed the complaint against Priya Ramani on October 15, 2018. He resigned as union minister on October 17, 2018.
MJ Akbar had previously told the court that Priya Ramani had defamed him by calling him with adjectives such as “the media’s greatest predator”, which damaged his reputation. He has denied all sexual harassment allegations made by the women who came forward during the #MeToo campaign.
Over 20 women reported alleged sexual harassment by MJ Akbar while they were journalists under him. He described the allegations as false, fabricated and deeply troubling and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.