New Delhi: Recording his statement in the defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani for calling him out in the wake of the #MeToo movement, journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar said on Wednesday that he was called a “talented predator” and an expert on “so-and-so”. The court has to begin pre-summoning evidence in the case today. (Also read: Editors’ Guild Asks MJ Akbar to Withdraw Defamation Case) Also Read - ‘He Pulled Bra Strap, Slapped on Breast’: Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’s Babita Aka Munmun Dutta's #MeToo Confession Goes Viral Again
“I’ve filed a criminal defamation complaint against Priya Ramani for a series of tweets that she published. First one came to my notice on my return from my official tour. The tweet had a link to an article in a magazine called Vogue,” he said, adding that her tweets October 10 and October 13 tweets were picked by media organisations and did rounds on social media, causing defamation. Also Read - Indian Idol 12 Takes Anu Malik Back as Judge After #MeToo But It's Not What You Think!
“The defamatory/offending portion in particular apart from the rest of the article is when she (Ramani) referred to me a “talented predator” and an expert on “so-and-so”,” ANI quoted him as having said in the court. He added that in the Vogue article Ramani did not mention his name. Also Read - Ali Zafar #MeToo Case: Meesha Shafi Can Face 3 Years of Imprisonment, Final Verdict on March 27
He said, “Opening sentence of her tweet explained one anomaly. When the article was first published in Vogue, it didn’t include my name. When she was asked about it, she said it was because “I had done nothing”. “Clearly, she was advised by Vogue that including my name would invite liability,” he said. Explaining why he resigned, Akbar said, “There was an immediate damage because of the scurrilous nature of the concocted and false allegations. I was attacked about the alleged & fabricated non-events. I chose to seek justice in my personal capacity without the appurtenance of the office and that’s why I resigned.”
November 12 has been set as the next date of hearing and witnesses would record their statement then, said ANI. Akbar stepped down as the Minister of State for External Affairs following allegations against him by at least 15 women who accused him of sexual harassment during his stint as the editor of The Asian Age.
In her Twitter post, Ramani had said that an article she had written about an editor inviting her to his hotel room for a job interview, was about Akbar. Soon after, multiple allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Akbar who denied the charges, terming them “a figment of imagination”.
On October 19, the Patiala House court took cognizance of Akbar’s complaint under Section 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC. Meanwhile, twenty women journalists have urged the court to also consider their testimonies and to be called as witnesses.