NEW DELHI: The judgment on MJ Akbar’s criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani has been deferred to February 17 by a Delhi Court.
The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Rouse Avenue Courts, Ravindra Kumar Pandey today deferred passing his verdict in the defamation case of former MP MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani to Feb 17, stating that the written submissions were submitted late to the court.
The court had on Feb 1, 2021 reserved judgment in the case after hearing rebuttal arguments of counsel of the complainant, Mr. Akbar as well as accused, Ms. Ramani.Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra represented Mr. MJ Akbar whereas Ms. Priya Ramani was represented by Senior Advocate Rebecca John.
The criminal defamation case was filed by MJ Akbar in October 2018, after he had to step down as a Union Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of sexual harassment allegations made by him by many women journalists during the ‘#MeToo’ social media movement.
Ramani had made a tweet during the ‘#MeToo’ movement revealing that the person referred to as a sexual harasser in an earlier article written by her in 2017 in ‘The Vogue’ was Akbar.
Akabar’s legal team, led by Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra, argued that the article affected his “stellar reputation reputation built brick by brick over 30 years”. Luthra argued that Ramani’s allegations were unbelievable as she kept quiet for over 30 years without availing any legal remedies.
For Ramani, Senior Advocate Rebecca John pleaded the defence of truth and public interest. She argued that Ramani’s statements came under the first exception to Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with imputation of truth which public good requires to be published. John highlighted that Akbar has chosen to prosecute only Ramani, although several other women have come forward with graver allegations against him, including rape. Ramani also examined witnesses like jouralist Ghazala Wahab(who has also alleged Akbar of sexual harassment) to establish that he enjoyed no reputation.The arguments were earlier completed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja. However, following his transfer to Karkardooma Court in November 2020, the final arguments started again before ACMM Ravindra Kumar Pandey. The recording of evidence of the witnesses was done before ACMM Pahuja.