A Delhi court on Thursday took cognisance of the criminal defamation complaint filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar against senior journalist Priya Ramani.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal at the Patiala House courts took cognisance of the complaint after a brief argument by Geeta Luthra, counsel for Mr. Akbar.
Ramani was the first to name Akbar in a Twitter post on October 8, and had revealed that an article she had written last year about an editor inviting her to his hotel room for a job interview and asking her to sit on the bed with him, was Akbar. Following this, multiple accounts of sexual harassment allegations against him surfaced.
Over twenty women journalists have also gone on record to ask the court to “consider testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of” Akbar and of others “who bore witness to this harassment.” In his statement, MJ Akbar had named four other women who had accused him but filed the criminal defamation complaint only against Ramani.
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) October 18, 2018
Akbar’s lawyer Sandeep Kapur told news agency PTI that the criminal defamation case will come up for hearing on Thursday before additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal. Kapur said since the matter is subjudice and the law will take its own course. “Since we have already filed the defamation case, we will pursue it in the court,” he added.
Akbar had stepped down as the minister of state for external affairs after Ramani and a number of other women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour at various stages of his journalistic career.
The BJP MP dismissed the allegations as “false and fabricated” and “malicious” and said he will be “taking appropriate legal action” and said these have “caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill”.
A group of current and former journalists employed by The Asian Age, a newspaper that was once edited by Akbar issued a statement on Tuesday, urging the Patiala House court to accept their testimonies in the case.