A former woman colleagues of MJ Akbar told a Delhi court hearing that she considered him “to be a brilliant journalist, a scholarly writer and a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation in my eyes and in the eyes of the public”. The statement was made during Monday’s hearing in the former Union Minister and Editor’s defamation case against a journalist who has accused him of sexual harassment in the #MeToo campaign.
Joyeeta Basu, the editor of The Sunday Guardian, is one of the six witnesses the Former Union Minister has named in the lawsuit. After multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him triggered widespread rage the industry, Akbar resigned from his post in the external affairs ministry. According to Basu, fellow journalist Priya Ramani, who is the first to come out and reveal that it was Akbar who assaulted her in 2017 in an article for Vogue, is actually trying to harm the editor’s reputation.
“I may have overcome my doubts but I know from the number of questions raised by people I know, his reputation has been destroyed and damaged irrevocably. After reading all the tweets by Ms Priya Ramani, I believe that this vilification was conducted and the tweets published intentionally by Ms Ramani with the purpose to harm Mr Akbar’s good reputation and goodwill,” she told the court, defending Akbar, NDTV reported.
Basu further said that she was “shocked, disappointed, embarrassed” to see Priya Ramani’s tweets against Akbar.
“It was aggravated during my interaction with friends and colleagues who had read and heard about the widely publicised tweets and articles and asked me whether he was really like that? They questioned his character and said that his image has taken a severe beating and had been lowered in their eyes. They said that his reputation had been permanently damaged as far as they were concerned,” she said.
Basu and Akbar are working together since 1998 and she said that she had not heard “anything untoward” from the staff wherever they had worked together. “I considered him to be a brilliant journalist, a scholarly writer and a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation in my eyes and in the eyes of the public,” she told the court.
In October, journalist Priya Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual misconduct. Then Ghazala Wahab opened up and revealed details of how Akbar abused her in an article in The Wire. Multiple women have spoken about Akbar’s sexual misconduct in public. However, he has sued only Priya Ramani.