New Delhi: Former minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar is scheduled to appear before a Delhi court today. Akbar’s statement will be recorded in connection with the defamation suit filed by him against journalist Priya Ramani who had accused him of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, twenty women journalists have urged the court to also consider their testimonies and to be called as witnesses.
Akbar had sued Ramani under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on defamation grounds. The former minister of state for external affairs stepped down from his post on October 17 after pressure mounted on him to resign following the rise in the number of allegations of sexual misconduct by several women.
As many as 15 women accused him of sexual misconduct during his stint as the editor of The Asian Age. Journalist Ramani recollected the first incident where Akbar invited her to his hotel room and asked her to sit on the bed with him. Ramani, the first to call out his name shared the incident in a Twitter post on October 8. Several allegations of sexual harassment.
Akbar has on several occasions denied the charges, terming them ‘a figment of imagination’ and dismissed the #metoo movement as a ‘viral fever’.
The Patiala House court took notice of Akbar’s complaint under Section 500 of the IPC (punishment for defamation) on October 19. Akbar who was not present at the hearing then was represented by his counsel senior advocate Geeta Luthra and advocate Sandeep Kapur.
During the brief hearing, Luthra submitted that Akbar’s ‘reputation has been tarnished by the tweets by “Ramani which have been read by family, friends and associates.” “He has received a number of calls from different spheres…enquiring of the allegations, causing irreparable loss to the reputation he has built in the last 40 years,” Luthra told the court.