Wednesday 26 January 2022
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MeToo: Akbar cross-examined, Ramani’s charges denied

Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. He has denied the accusations.

New Delhi: The cross-examination of journalist and former Union minister MJ Akbar concluded Saturday before a Delhi court in a criminal defamation case filed by him against scribe Priya Ramani, who accused him of sexual misconduct during the so-called ‘MeToo’ campaign that came to India from the West last year.

During the cross-examination of Akbar by senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Ramani, Akbar was questioned about the allegations made by other women journalists who had also accused him of sexual misconduct while they were working with him.

While he termed as “misunderstanding the allegations made by Majlie De Puy Kamp, who worked with him as an intern, Akbar said he was not aware of an article written by his former colleague Ruth David accusing him of sexual harassment. “I am not aware nor have I read any articles written by Ruth David recounting instances of sexual misconduct on my part. If any article is written, the allegations are denied,” he told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.

Akbar, who had resigned as minister on 17 October last year following the MeToo allegations levelled during the campaign, said that, prior to filing the complaint against Ramani, he was aware that several other women had made allegations against him but he did not file any complaint of defamation against any other person, international or Indian publication. However, he said he was not selective in filing this complaint against Ramani in order to target her.

Akbar said that Ramani’s tweets used language that was deeply offensive, maligning, in bad faith, and a web of fabrication spun out of the lies. He also said that the allegations in Ramani’s articles were false.

The court will now take up the matter on 15 July.

Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after his name cropped up on social media as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India.

Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. He has denied the accusations.

Akbar had earlier told the court that the MeToo allegations made in the article in Vogue and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed them to be false and imaginary.

The former journalist and minister had told the court in his statement that an “immediate damage” has been caused to him due to the scurrilous, concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct.

Several women have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by him while he was working as a journalist, expressing their angst with the hashtag MeToo on Twitter.

Akbar has termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

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