#MeToo Journalists ready to fight legal battle as union minister MJ Akbar files defamation case

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New Delhi | Published: October 16, 2018 12:20:13 AM

According to the complaint, Ramani had written an article in Vogue India in 2017, alleging sexual harassment, but without naming Akbar.

MoS, External Affairs, M J Akbar at his residence in New Delhi on Monday. (Image: Anil Sharma)

A day after he made it clear that he was not going to step down from the Council of Ministers in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him, Minister of State (External Affairs) M J Akbar Monday filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court against journalist Priya Ramani, stating that her alleged defamatory articles on him were a “figment of imagination” and “only” intended to “malign” his reputation.

Ramani, who first named Akbar in a Twitter post October 8, said she was “ready to fight allegations of defamation made against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence”. She said Akbar “seeks to silence” women through “intimidation and harassment”.

The complaint, filed in the Patiala House Courts by advocate Sandeep Kapur on behalf of law firm Karanjawala and Co’s 97 lawyers representing Akbar, said Ramani’s “defamatory statements relating to the incidents which allegedly occurred 20 years ago, simultaneously admits that the complainant has not done anything to her. It is pertinent to mention that the conduct of the accused persons of not taking any action before any authority, the alleged incident against the complainant also clearly belies the sanctity of the article and the allegations made by the accused person which evidently goes on to prove that the defamatory articles are only a figment of imagination and are only intended to malign the reputation of the client”.

According to the complaint, Ramani had written an article in Vogue India in 2017, alleging sexual harassment, but without naming Akbar. On October 8, she named Akbar in a Twitter post: “I began this piece with my M J Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse story about this predator-may they’ill share. #ulti.”

Stating that the “defamatory allegations” made by Ramani were published in various media agencies, Akbar’s complaint sought her “prosecution and conviction”.

“Seeking her prosecution and conviction for wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming the complainant on wholly and complete false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous ground and thereby harming the goodwill and reputation of the complainant within the political fraternity, media, friends, family, colleagues and in society at large,” the complaint stated.

Akbar, in his complaint, said he “seeks due” and appropriate punitive action. “That the scandalous allegations levelled against the complainant, by their very tone and tenor, are ex facie defamatory and have not only damaged the goodwill and reputation of the complainant, in his social circles and on the political stage, established years of toil and hard work, but have also affected the personal reputation of the complainant in the community, friends, family and colleagues, thereby causing him irreparable loss and tremendous distress,” his complaint stated.

Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Alok Nath on Monday filed a civil suit in a Mumbai court against writer-director Vinta Nanda after she accused him of rape. Nath has sought Re 1 as damages and an apology from Nanda for “defaming” him.

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