Delhi High Court To Hear MJ Akbar’s Plea Challenging Acquittal Of Priya Ramani

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Acquittal Of Priya Ramani: The Delhi High Court will hear the former Union Minister MJ Akbar’s plea challenging the acquittal of Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case filed against her by him.

Akbar had filed a case in October 2018 over the “Me Too” sexual harassment allegations that had been made by Ramani. On February 17, 2021, a Delhi court had acquitted Ramani in the case. The acquittal of Priya Ramani had been celebrated as a pivotal and historical judgement for Indian women.

The court had stated that “Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self-confidence. Right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of right to dignity.”  The court had also stated that a “woman has right to put her grievance at a platform of her choice,” and observed that a man of social status with a “stellar reputation” can be a sexual harasser.

Justice Mukta Gupta will be hearing the plea by Akbar against the acquittal of Priya Ramani on March 25.

Akbar had filed the defamation case after several allegations of sexual harassment against him followed after Ramani’s tweet. The tweet was a part of the Me Too movement and revealed the person she referred to as a sexual harasser in an article written by her was Akbar. After Ramani’s tweet, several allegations of sexual harassment against him came to light.

Akbar’s argument was that before the alleged defamatory tweet, he had a “stellar reputation” in society which was damaged by Ramani’s tweet. He also claimed that the tweet led to a social media trial against him which cannot be permitted.

Ramani claimed public interest, public good, and the truth as her defense. She argued that a person accused of sexual harassment cannot claim to have a “stellar reputation”. Thus, there was no question of his Akbar’s reputation being destroyed and defamation taking place. In January 2019, Ramani had been summoned by the court and released on bail in February.

Addition Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey took charge of the case following the transfer of ACMM Vishal Pahuja. When ACCM Pandey was in charge of the case, he had asked both parties if there was a chance for a compromise. Ramani stood by her statements and refused to settle the matter.