Former BJP leader MJ Akbar has filed a defamation complaint Journalist Priya Ramani for alleged defamatory publications against him during the ‘Me Too’ movement. Today Delhi court informed hearing the matter that there were other women too who had come out against Akbar at the time, but she has been singled out in the complaint.
Appearing for Ramani, Senior Advocate Rebecca John referred to experiences shared by Saba Naqvi, Harinder Baweja, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma and others in response to Ramani’s tweet. The Court asked if he has made complaints against others too, for which John replied,”No, he has only picked out Ramani, even though he admits he was aware of others also.”
John said referring to the case documents that, in an article published by her in 2017 in the Vogue magazine no-one had been named by her; however, in 2018 when she tweeted about the incident, this article was referred to/attached in the tweet.
“Only the first four paras of the article referred to Akbar, rest of the article was about male bosses in general.”She submitted. She admitted that the first four paras in article was in fact referring to Akbar.
She argued relying on a FirstPost article put forth by Akbar before the court, that “it’s an established principle of law that if the prosecution places a document on record, the defence can very well rely on it.”
Strongly refuted to Akbar’s claim of a “sterling reputation” John stated that it was admitted by him that he had shared a consensual relationship with Pallavi Gogoi 23 years back which ended on a bitter note. Pallavi’s flaunting the relationship publicly had in fact threatened to destroy their family -which also he had admitted, his wife stated.
If this was the record of a man with a “sterling reputation”, she questioned.
“Irrespective of the nature of his relationship, and I am none to comment on it, Mr. Akbar has admitted that he was in a relationship with a woman who was 20 years his junior and his subordinate at the workplace, at the time he was married,” John submitted.
“This is not the conduct of a man with a sterling reputation.” She said that she had established this through his documents.
John went on, “He didn’t even remember that the Delhi High Court convicted him for contempt, it seems there is no onus on him to be truthful. He is a politician now, but was a journalist earlier. Where is the onus of truth?”
Thereafter referring to Ramani’s statement, John read out that she was not called only one for interview in the hotel room, he also asked her personal questions and offered her alcoholic beverage and asked her no job-related questions.
Till December 10, 2020, the hearing has been adjourned.