On Wednesday, a Delhi Court acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case filed over the ‘metoo’ by former Union Minister MJ Akbar. The accusations of sexual assault that she made.
Even after decades, a woman has the right to carry her complaint, “Woman has right to put her grievance even after decades” It noticed that the guy was a sexual harasser.
The Court ruled that “Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self-confidence. Right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of the right to dignity.”
Community must consider the effect on its victims of sexual assault and harassment, “The society must understand the impact of sexual abuse and harassment on its victims.”
“Article 21 and the right to equality is protected under the Constitution. She has full power to place up her case in any forum of her choice”.
Time has arrived for our society to realize that sometimes a survivor may for years not stay silent due to the mental trauma. The woman cannot be prosecuted for raising her voice against sexual assault” said the order.
The court acknowledged that she made the announcement because other women identified Akbar as a sexual predator, the likelihood of defense of the accused. It was also agreed by the Court that Akbar was not a man of stellar repute.
It acknowledged Ramani’s point that Akbar’s assertion of a stellar image was ruined by the testimony of Ghazala Wahab, who was also reportedly sexual. They were oppressed by Akbar.
The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Ravindra Kumar Pandey, delivered the judgment in open court in the presence of both sides.
On Feb 1, 2021, after hearing rebuttal arguments by Akbar and Ramani, the court had reserved judgement in the case. The decision, which was initially reserved for 10 February, was delayed until 17 February after the judge noted that the written applications had been sent to the court late and that further time had also been taken to render the verdict.
Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra represented Mr. MJ Akbar, whilst Senior Advocate Rebecca John represented Ms. Priya Ramani. Although reserving judgement on the matter, the Court allowed the parties the right to file further written statements within four days.
In October 2018, MJ Akbar filed a criminal defamation case in a Delhi Court after he was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, following a tweet by Ramani as part of the ‘#MeToo’ campaign, revealing that Akbar was the individual referred to as a sexual harasser in an earlier article written by her in’ The Vogue.’
After a series of sexual assault charges followed against him following Ramani’s tweet, Akbar, the then Minister of State for External Relations, launched the defamation lawsuit. His argument is that he had enjoyed a “stellar reputation” in society until Ramani’s supposed defamatory message, which was destroyed after her tweet, and therefore she was accountable for criminal defamation. Akbar also alleged that Ramani’s tweet had led to a trial against him on social media, something that in a lawful society cannot be allowed.
Ramani, on her part, as her defense, has claimed public interest, public good, and truth and argued that one accused of sexual misconduct cannot claim to have a stellar reputation in the first place, so there was no question of destroying the reputation and defamation of against Akbar.
In January 2019, Ramani was summoned by the Court in the case and was released on bail in February 2019.
Before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja, the arguments were completed earlier. The final claims, however, began again before ACMM Ravindra Kumar Pandey after his move to the Karkardooma Court in November 2020. The recording of the witnesses’ testimony was carried out on behalf of ACMM Pahuja.
He had asked the parties if there was an opportunity to settle when ACMM Pandey took control of the litigation. Ramani said, however, that she stood by her comments and declined to resolve the matter.