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#MeToo: MJ Akbar Refutes Priya Ramani’s Allegations As “False, Defamatory” At Hearing

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In the ongoing legal battle between journalists MJ Akbar and Priya Ramani, the former denied allegations of sexual misconduct against him as “false,” during a court hearing. On Thursday in Delhi, Akbar, who is also a former Union Minister, claimed Ramani’s #MeToo accusation was “defamatory,” and had instigated other women and the media to make statements about him that allegedly harmed his reputation.

Represented by advocate Rebecca John, Ramani had made her final submissions on December 18 (during the last hearing) with regard to her allegations against Akbar of sexual misconduct from 20 years ago. Her issue first came to public light during India’s #MeToo wave in 2018 when she tweeted about it. Akbar, on Thursday, said before the court that it was this tweet that had led to others making allegedly false statements about him.

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MJ Akbar Denies Claims Of Sexual Misconduct In Court

Akbar, who is being represented by senior advocate Geeta Luthra, made his submissions through her before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar at this final hearing in Delhi. Indian Express quoted Luthra as saying, “False, defamatory statement by her lead to repeat by other persons and media. She started this. That”s why immediately after my coming back I (Akbar) made the complaint against her.”

Luthra, for Akbar, has also claimed that Ramani disrespected India’s legal system by tweeting about the alleged #MeToo incident so many years after it happened and raised doubts over the journalist not having sought legal redressal. “Ramani in her cross-examination admitted that ‘women have tried the due process in India but I have no faith in due process’. Due process was available to women in India for very long… This is disrespecting India’s legal system,” she was quoted saying in Newslaundry.

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Priya Ramani’s Final Submissions To Court

On December 18, 2020, Ramani had made her final submissions in the defamation case against her. She had then claimed that Akbar did not approach the court with “clean hands” when slapping a defamation case on her.

According to Bar & Bench, John, while representing Ramani in court, brought up the multiple allegations by many women against Akbar. “These women did not know each other. An individual who a senior editor and a Minister at that time, was there no obligation on him to state that there were other allegations against him, that Priya Ramani was not an isolated incident,” she said.

As per reports, the next hearing in the case will be held on January 12. Read more about the case here.