Akbar must step down for fair probe: journalist bodies

Akbar must step down for fair probe: journalist bodies

Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar leaves MEA at South Block, in New Delhi, Monday. Akbar has filed a private criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani who recently levelled charges of sexual misconduct against him as the

NEW DELHI, DHNS: The Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC) and several other journalist bodies on Monday demanded that M J Akbar must step down as the minister of state for external affairs so that "an impartial" probe into accusations of sexual harassment against him can be done.

"We are disappointed that Akbar did not choose to take this step (stepping down from his ministerial position), instead of threatening the complainants with legal action," they said in a joint statement on Monday.

An impartial probe should be conducted into all the complaints against Akbar "without fear of threat or intimidation" to the complainants, the statement said.

"More so as the accused party (Akbar) is an influential minister in the present government. In the interests of a fair probe, moral and public propriety, it would only be appropriate that the minister step down from his post till such time as the inquiry is completed," the journalist organisations sought.

The IWPC, Press Association, Press Club of India and South Asian Women in Media issued the joint statement seeking Akbar to step down as Union Minister hours after he filed a criminal defamation case against Priya Ramani, a Delhi-based journalist who recently accused him of sexually harassing her two decades ago.

"We are also deeply disappointed at the statement issued by Akbar, wherein he has threatened legal action against all those who have alleged they were harassed by him. Akbar is a senior functionary of the government and his response should reflect the responsibility that is thus bestowed on him,” the journalist bodies said.