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Friday, January 21, 2022

Defamation case: Delhi HC admits MJ Akbar’s appeal over Priya Ramani’s acquittal

Akbar had filed the defamation case against Ramani in 2018 after she levelled sexual harassment allegations against him. The trial court acquitted Ramani in the case on February 17 last year.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 14, 2022 7:58:31 am
M J Akbar and Priya Ramani

The Delhi High Court on Thursday admitted the appeal filed by former Union minister M J Akbar against a trial court order acquitting journalist Priya Ramani in a defamation case filed by him in connection with the sexual harassment allegations against him.

Akbar had filed the defamation case against Ramani in 2018 after she levelled sexual harassment allegations against him. The trial court had acquitted Ramani in the case on February 17 last year.

In the criminal defamation case against Ramani, Akbar had accused her of damaging his reputation by way of tweets and articles published in print and online media.

Ramani had levelled allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Akbar during the time when the ‘MeToo’ campaign had gained momentum in India.

Representing Akbar on Thursday before the bench of Justice Mukta Gupta, senior advocate Rajiv Nayar submitted at the outset of the hearing that the first appeal can be admitted and a date can be set for its consideration. The court said the appeal has to be admitted and the complainant has the right to file an appeal.

“Admit. List in due course,” Justice Gupta said.

While acquitting Ramani, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey had, in the verdict last year, said that the court takes into consideration the “systematic abuse at the workplace” that was prevalent, due to the lack of a mechanism to redress the grievance of sexual-harassment.

“The Court accepts the contention of the accused and the possibility of defence of the accused that she disclosed the truth regarding the incident of sexual harassment against her at the Oberoi Hotel, Bombay [now Mumbai], in December 1993 on the basis of testimony of accused DW1 and its corroboration by the testimony of DW2 Niloufer Venkatraman,” Judge Pandey had said in the ruling.

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