Priya Ramani’s Tweet Itself an Anomaly, Akbar Tells Court in Defamation Hearing
MJ Akbar told the court that Priya Ramani’s #MeToo allegations have “caused defamation to my reputation and good standing”.
New Delhi, Oct 31: The statement of Former Union minister MJ Akbar was recorded on Wednesday before a Delhi court in the criminal defamation case filed by him against journalist Priya Ramani who has accused the former journalist of sexual misconduct.
Appearing before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, Akbar said he had stepped down as Minister of State for External Affairs to “seek justice in his personal capacity” without any “appurtenance of office”.
“I was attacked in my personal capacity about alleged and fabricated non-events allegedly done two decades ago. I chose in that environment to seek justice in my personal capacity without the appurtenance of office. This is why I offered my resignation as Minister of State, Government of India,” Akbar’s statement said.
Ramani’s tweets have “caused defamation to my reputation and good standing”. The said tweets were picked up by various online publications and social media,” Akbar further stated.
Akbar in his statement, while referring to Ramani’s allegations, said the opening statement of her tweet itself was an “anomaly.”
“While referring to the tweet when I saw it, I would like to draw your attention to a very important factor. The opening statement of the tweet explained one anomaly. When the article was first published in Vogue it did not include my name. When Ms Ramani was asked why she didn’t include my name she said it was because I had done nothing,” stated Akbar. “Clearly she was advised by Vogue India that inclusion of my name would invite libel,” submitted Akbar. Akbar stressed that Ramani had not mentioned his name in the article published in Vogue India.
Ramani was the first in a long list of female journalists to have accused Akbar of sexual harassment. She revealed that an article she wrote for Vogue India in October 2017 was about Akbar though she had not named him in it.
In the piece, she recounted what she called her first experience of workplace harassment, describing Akbar as a “predator”.
Akbar said the allegations had “lowered” his reputation. “When I came back to my residence on October 14, friends came over deeply upset. My colleagues were understandably affected. I also received many calls and questions about the allegations,” said Akbar, adding that, “The allegations have lowered my reputation in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public, my friends, my colleagues, my peers, and my professional and political fraternity thereby causing irreparable loss to my reputation and goodwill.”
Akbar has set up a battery of 97 lawyers to defend him against Ramani in the case.
Copy Edited by Adam Rizvi, With inputs from agencies