During the latest hearing of the criminal defamation case filed by ex-Union Minister MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani, the former accused the journalist of allegedly destroying evidence by deleting her Twitter account. Akbar’s counsel and senior Advocate Geeta Luthra argued in the court that another criminal case can be registered against Ramani for deleting her social media account, which had “primary evidence”.
All evidence which was part of the trial.. deliberately, intentionally, maliciously has been destroyed by deleting the Twitter account: Luthra— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) January 21, 2021
In the Thursday hearing of a criminal complaint filed by Akbar against Ramani, who had accused the politician of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement in 2018, Luthra also told the court that Ramani’s statement has harmed her client and it is “indefensible”.
I would have wanted to cross examine her. This whole thing is destruction of evidence is not something which is not viewed very seriously.. suppose the court wanted to see it. Fact is that everything has been deliberately destroyed to subserve the cause of justice: Luthra— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) January 21, 2021
The arguments were made before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar on January 21.
Luthra reads Ramani's cross examination on admiring MJ Akbar's work.— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) January 21, 2021
She's trying to trivialise the fact that she know that @mjakbar was a famous editor: Luthra
Additionally, Akbar’s advocate told the court that Ramani “deliberately destroyed” all tweets to “subserve the cause of justice” even though “she knows a criminal complaint is pending against her.”
“These are all tweets. They were all primary evidence. Can she destroy evidence? Another criminal case can be made out,” Luthra argued in the court pointing out, “….another criminal case can be made out.”
The case so far
After multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him triggered flak across the nation, Akbar resigned from his post as Union Minister on October 17 in 2018. In an article for Vogue in 2017, Ramani alleged that a senior editor had misbehaved with many journalists including her. She later had revealed MJ Akbar’s name on Twitter.
On October 15, 2018, Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani, saying his name and reputation were tarnished on social media due to her allegations. He had denied the allegations of sexual misconduct and termed the allegations as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”.
Following Ramani’s revelations, another journalist, Ghazala Wahab, came forward and alleged that Akbar has sexually abused her in an article. Since then, multiple women have spoken out about Akbar’s alleged sexual misconduct in public. However, he has sued only Priya Ramani. Over 20 women made sexual harassment allegations against the former minister and revealed that the incidences happened when they were working as journalists under him.