#MeTooIndia: MJ Akbar files criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani

Former editor and current junior foreign minister MJ Akbar, from BJP, has filed a criminal defamation case against his former colleague and woman journalist Priya Ramani, for causing harm to his reputation and goodwill, following the #MeToo movement.

In his complaint filed in Patiala House Court, Akbar has blamed Priya Ramani for a defamatory article which she wrote for Vogue magazine in 2017, and also for her tweets this month, which resulted in allegations against him from several other women journalists too.

He has filed the criminal defamation under Section 499 (defamation), punishable under Section 500 (simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or fine, or both).

Karanjawala and Co, on behalf of MJ Akbar, have filed the complaint, signed by 97 lawyers, against journalist Ramani, focusing on her words in her tweets targeting Akbar. The complaint emphasized on the point that the accuser (Ramani), while describing Akbar as ‘biggest sexual predator’, has herself said that ‘he did not do anything to her’. And this showed that she acted only with the “sole ulterior of maligning the reputation and political standing of the complainant, in furtherance of her own vested interests and underlying agenda”, read the complaint.

The detailed complaint by MJ Akbar mentioned that the accused (Ramani) herself, while putting forward the aforementioned defamatory statements, simultaneously admits that the complainant (MJ Akbar) has not done anything to her. And that it is pertinent to mention that the conduct of the accused person, of not taking any action before any authority, regarding the alleged incident against the complainant also clearly belies the sanctity of the article and the allegations made by the accused person, which evidently goes on to prove that the said defamatory articles are only a figment of her imagination and are only intended to malign the reputation of the complainant.

MJ Akbar listed his accomplishments as an editor as well as an author and said that Ramani’s allegations have caused ‘great humiliation to him’ and also hugely affected his reputation in the eyes of the public as well as his family, friends, colleagues, political fraternity and associates.

Replying on MJ Akbar’s actions, Priya Ramani said that she is deeply disappointed, to know that a Union Minister has dismissed the detailed allegations of several women as a ‘political conspiracy’. By instituting the criminal defamation against her Mr. Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment, she said.

Continuing further, she also said that she will now fight for the truth no matter what, and that ‘absolute truth’ is her ‘only defence’.

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