Priya Ramani Pleads “Not Guilty” in MJ Akbar Defamation Case
Journalist Priya Ramani appeared before the Delhi court of Additional Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal to contest the defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar on Wednesday. She pleaded “not guilty” to the defamation charge levelled against her by Akbar.
“I plead truth as my defence… made in good faith, in public interest and for the public good. I will prove my defence during trial. I plead not guilty,” she said as per Bar And Bench.
Akbar filed a defamation case against Ramani after she accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct in a series of tweets, published in October 2018 as #MeToo wave hit the country. After Ramani alleged sexual misconduct against Akbar, around 12 women came forward and accused him of the same but Akbar filed the case only against Ramani.
Ramani was given bail on February 25 on a surety of Rs 10,000 after which the court had summoned her to appear today. “The next date when they will frame the charges against me is April 10. After that it will be my turn to tell my story. The truth is my defence,” she had told reporters after she got bail nearly two months ago, NDTV reported.
Senior lawyer Rebecca John, who is representing Ramani, brought the absence of Akbar to the notice of the magistrate. The next hearing will happen on May 4 when Magistrate Vishal will record evidence in the case and Akbar will have to be present in the court on that date. The court has granted permanent exemption from personal appearances to Ramani, PTI reported.
“I plead truth as my defence… made in good faith, in public interest and for the public good. I will prove my defence during trial. I plead not guilty”
Ramani had previously written an article in 2017 in Vogue alleging Akbar’s misconduct against many women however she did not name him in the article then. However, last year in October when MeToo movement unfurled in the country particularly within the media industry, Ramani named Akbar on Twitter in a series of tweets. To retaliate against Ramani, Akbar filed a defamation case saying his name and reputation were tarnished on social media.
He denied the allegations of sexual misconduct and termed the allegations as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”. The former minister said he was taking appropriate legal action against them. He had recorded the statement of six witnesses before the court. “Indeed there was immediate damage because of the scurrilous nature of these concocted and false allegations. I was attacked in my personal capacity about alleged and fabricated non-events allegedly done two decades ago,” he had said.
Women who accused Akbar include a US-Based journalist who claims that she was harassed at a Jaipur hotel over 23 years ago, followed by instances of “sexual, verbal and emotional” torture. However, the former minister denied the allegations again by saying that theirs was a consensual relationship but the journalist refuted his statement by saying that a relationship “based on coercion and abuse of power” cannot be couched in such terms.
Picture credit- STP