New Delhi: Delhi’s Patiala House Court has reserved the order on whether to summon Priya Ramani as an accused in former Union Minister MJ Akbar’s defamation case. The order will be passed on January 29.
Earlier, the Delhi court had decided that the criminal defamation case filed by Akbar against Ramani will be heard on January 22. On October 8, the journalist first named the editor-turned politician in a Twitter post. Akbar had resigned as a Union Minister on October 17, 2018, thereafter.
Akbar’s name had cropped up on the social media when he was in Nigeria last year, as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India. Multiple women came out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by him when he was a journalist.
He had termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.
Expressing her readiness to fight the defamation allegations, Ramani had said, “Rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment.”
On Monday, a controversy erupted after a booklet featuring MJ Akbar, who resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs over allegations of sexual misconduct by several women, was distributed to delegates at the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in Varanasi.
The Congress attacked the government, questioning whether Akbar had not resigned as MoS. “Featuring the #MeToo accused as a star? Hasn’t he resigned?” Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted in response to a post on the booklet.
Thereafter, ministry officials clarified that Akbar is not at all associated with the event and that the booklet was published in May last year, months before he quit as the MoS. The booklet highlighted achievements of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the last four years and all the ministers in the MEA featured in it.
“The booklet was published months before Akbar quit as a minister. An unnecessary controversy is being created which is very unfortunate. The booklet only mentions achievements of the ministry,” said a government official.