Akbar says Ramani's tweets 'damaged' his reputation

Former Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, MJ Akbar on Saturday denied allegations of sexual harassment by journalist Priya Ramani and claimed that her Tweets caused “irreplaceable damage” to his reputation.

“This affected by public reputation as well as my standing within family and friends, the allegations made are false; however in order to protect my reputation, I sought the justice of this court,” Akbar said while addressing the court, according to Bar and Bench.

Many renowned journalists including Barkha Dutt (Tiranga TV), Faye DSouza (Mirror Now), Nidhi Razdan (NDTV), Javed Mansari, Suparna Sharma (Asian Age) were reportedly in attendance at the court along with Priya Ramani.

Akbar claimed that the news coverage that the allegations gained were because of the tweets by the journalist and that, the language used by her in the tweets were “unwarranted, defamatory and mala fide”.

“My reputation was lowered in the eyes of friends and colleagues by false allegations made by Ramani intentionally...The per se effect was defamatory, lowering of prestige in the eyes of right-thinking people...I have been harmed by the offensive words used, which were false and which caused irreplaceable damage to my stellar reputation which I had built over my years”.

Following senior Advocate Rebecca John cross-examination of  MJ Akbar’s testimony, the court adjourned the proceeding for the day and set May 20 as the next date for MJ Akbar’s cross-examination.

Akbar was accused by Priya Ramini after she wrote an open letter about her experience with Akbar that was published by Vogue India in 2017. Ramani did not name him at the time but she tweeted earlier this month, admitting that it was Akbar who harassed her.

The MP from the upper house of the parliament made these comment in court as part of the ongoing defamation case that was filed by Akbar on Ramani in October, last year.

Patiala high court had issued summons to Ramini and she was asked to appear before the court on January 25. Ramani has denied all charges of defamation and paid a fee of Rs. 10,000 to get her bail.

Under pressure, Akbar eventually stepped down from his post of minister of state for external affairs on 17th October, 2018.

Nearly 20 women had accused the former Union Minister of sexual misconduct but Akbar denied the allegations and dismissed them as wild”, “baseless” and a “sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe".

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