Akbar's defamation suit hearing likely today

Last Updated 17 October 2018, 15:49 IST

A Delhi court is likely to hear on Thursday a criminal defamation complaint filed by former Union Minister M J Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani for making allegations of sexual harassment during his stint as the editor of a newspaper 20 years ago.

The complaint filed on October 15 may come up for consideration in the afternoon before the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, Akbar's lawyers said here on Wednesday.

Faced with a barrage of sexual harassment charges from over two dozen women, Akbar finally resigned on Wednesday. He accused Ramani of making “false, motivated and malicious” allegations to harm his reputation.

He has sought prosecution of Ramani, who was the first to make allegations against him as a part of #MeToo movement, that struck film, media and other industries. He claimed she caused “irreparable loss, tremendous distress and great humiliation to him and his reputation” for “fulfillment of an agenda”.

He sought actions, including issuance of summons, against the woman journalist for an offence under Section 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment of defamation) of the IPC.

His lawyers may seek an interim injunction for removal and further publication of materials related to the allegations in media.

Akbar accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming” him on completely “false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous grounds and thereby harming his goodwill and reputation within the political fraternity, media, friends, family, colleagues and society at large”.

The punishment for the offence, if found guilty, carries a maximum prison term of two years or fine, or both.

He said the accused journalist, while referring to a 20-year-old incident, admitted he has never done anything to her, still she (Priya Ramani) has intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious imputations to harm his reputation.

"The conduct of the accused person, of not taking any action before any authority, qua the alleged incident, also clearly belies the sanctity of the (article written by her) and the allegations," he said, terming the charges as "figment of her imagination."

In his complaint filed by advocate Sandeep Kapur of Karanjawala & Co, he contended a false narrative was being circulated in a motivated manner.

He has given a list of six witnesses namely, Joyeeta Basu, Veenu Sandal, Syed Habibur Rehman, Tapan Chaki, Sunil Gujral and Manzar Ali, whom he wanted to be examine during the proceedings.

(Published 17 October 2018, 15:11 IST)

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