New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment levelled by several women, on Monday filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani.
Akbar filed the defamation case through his advocates Karanjawala & Co. at Delhi’s Patiala House Court against Ramani, who was the first woman to come out and accuse the Union minister of sexual harassment during his stint as the editor years back. A statement from Akbar’s lawyers confirmed that the case has been filed against Ramani under the sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Minister of State for External Affairs has accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and has sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation.
“The complainant (Akbar) also had a long career in journalism, he launched India’s first weekly political news magazine…,” the complaint said and listed out defamatory imputations made by Ramani on social media against him.
Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda, the complaint said.
It termed as “scandalous” the allegations made by Ramani against Akbar and said “very tone and tenor” are ex-facie defamatory and they have not only damaged his goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected Akbar’s reputation in the community and friends, family and colleagues and caused irreparable loss and tremendous distress.
Ramani, in a tweet on October 8, had revealed that a 2017 article she had written, was about M J Akbar. In her article, she had alleged that a senior editor had interviewed her for a job in a hotel room and had made her feel uncomfortable. However, she had not named Akbar in her article then.
Following Ramani accusing Akbar earlier this month, multiple women in the last few days have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist as the #MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of life.
Meanwhile, amid the growing chorus demanding Akbar’s resignation following the allegations of sexual harassment and predatory behaviour levelled against him, the MoS on Sunday categorically refuted the charges as “false, baseless and fabricated” and also threatened to take legal action against the accusers.
Hours after his return from a trip to Africa, Akbar issued a detailed a statement, trashing the statements levelled against him and adding that his lawyers will look into the allegations.
“Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action,” Akbar was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
“The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad,” he added.
Referring to charges by former colleague Priya Ramani, who had written an article a year ago and now named him following the #MeToo campaign, Akbar said: “Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not, however, name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a Tweet: “Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything.
“If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story? There’s no story. But a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened. Some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything,” he said.