JOURNALIST PRIYA Ramani, who is on trial in a defamation case filed by former Union minister M J Akbar, on Wednesday told a Delhi court that she has pleaded truth as her defence and that her disclosures were for public good.
The submissions were made by Ramani’s lawyer, senior advocate Rebecca John, who was making her final arguments before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Pandey. However, she was unable to conclude her arguments, which will now take place on December 5.
John began by reading the complaint against Ramani and, while referring to Ramani’s article in the Vogue magazine, told the court that an “unnecessary controversy is raised in this case that the entire article referred to M J Akbar but only the first four paragraphs referred to Akbar”.
After reading out Ramani’s tweet, in which she called Akbar media’s biggest predator, John told the court that “till then several women had spoken out against Akbar”.
John made the court go through several exceptions to Section 499 of the IPC and argued, “It is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the imputation should be made or published”.
She told the court: “I have pleaded truth as my defence, that my disclosure has been made in good faith, for public good. The reason I have done so is because it touched a question of public importance.”
“Defamation is not an absolute offence. It is a justifiable offence. Evidence in this case has to be dealt with differently… the court must see if they have proved their case beyond reasonable doubt and whether I have crossed the threshold of preponderance of probability. I don’t have to prove it beyond reasonable doubt,” John told the court.
On allegations that Ramani did not exercise due care and caution, John told the court that Akbar was found guilty of contempt when he was the editor of The Asian Age newspaper.
Akbar has sued Ramani for defamation over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. With several other women coming forward with similar allegations against the former journalist, Akbar resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs.
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