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Thursday, April 09, 2020

M J Akbar’s defamation case: ‘Moment you call someone media’s worst predator then it is per se defamatory’

Journalist Priya Ramani had levelled allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Akbar, who subsequently resigned as MoS for External Affairs and filed a defamation case.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | Updated: February 29, 2020 7:26:27 am
mj akbar defamation case, mj akbar sexual assault, priya ramani, priya ramani case, indian express news “Reputation effects not only that person but also others… you are sowing seeds of suspicion… you are doing it to his family, his children and those who interact with him socially and publicly… It has a cascading effect,” Akbar’s counsel said.  (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Former Union Minister M J Akbar’s lawyer Geetha Luthra told a Delhi court that the moment you call someone media’s biggest predator, it is “per se defamatory”.

Journalist Priya Ramani had levelled allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Akbar, who subsequently resigned as MoS for External Affairs and filed a defamation case.

Luthra, appearing for Akbar, was making her final arguments before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja. The final arguments could not be concluded and will be taken up on February 29.

Luthra told the court, “What has been been said is per se defamatory… the moment you call someone media’s worst predator then it is per se defamatory… The fact is all of it has harmed my reputation.” Luthra told the court that she has examined people who said in their examination in chief that “they held Akbar in high regard but his reputation was lowered in their eyes”.

“Reputation effects not only that person but also others… you are sowing seeds of suspicion… you are doing it to his family, his children and those who interact with him socially and publicly… It has a cascading effect. Embarrassing questions were asked,” she told the court.

Luthra told the court that no due process was followed in the case: “At the toss of a coin, just make an allegation and then let that person suffer for years. To speak at the workplace is always the right of the person and those forums are there.”

During the end of the hearing, Luthra told the court, “To attack a person behind their back, to stab them like this to attack him on social media in a casual manner knowing that his whole life will be adversely affected.”

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