JOURNALIST PRIYA Ramani, on trial in a defamation case filed by former Union minister M J Akbar, has through her lawyers told a Delhi court that she will not settle the case with Akbar and stands by her statement.
The submissions were made before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Pandey, who had urged lawyers for both Ramani and Akbar to consider settling the defamation case since the offence was compoundable in nature.
On Tuesday, ACMM Pandey asked the lawyers whether they had a chance to talk or “are the doors shut?” Bhavook Chauhan, appearing on behalf of Ramani, told the court, “Our stand is clear… Ramani stands by her statement. If the complainant wants to withdraw then he may bring it on record.”
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing on behalf of Akbar, told the court, “If the accused was apologetic. If there was any indication from them, I will ask my briefing counsel.”
Akbar’s lawyers told the court to continue the case on its merits, following which the court said the issue of settlement was closed. The court set the next date of hearing on December 2.
Akbar has sued Ramani for defamation over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. With several other women coming forward with similar allegations, Akbar resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs.
On Tuesday, Luthra concluded her final arguments, which were made for a second time, since a new judge was transferred to the case.
Luthra begun the hearing by going through the background of the case and told the court that Akbar had a “long, illustrious career… an impeccable reputation. It was not only in professional life… He has done extreme hardwork and was an exacting senior…”
Luthra then read out excerpts from Ramani’s article published in Vogue in 2017. “She names the complainant, says he didn’t do anything. Despite that she is calling him a pervert, predator… It’s not that she has done any research or any enquiry….”
She also read out Akbar’s statement made to the court along with that of his witnesses. “This takes care of showing that reputation was impeccable and he was respected amongst right thinking members of the society,” Luthra said.
Referring to Ramani’s tweet on Akbar’s resignation, she told the court, “I am showing the lack of responsibility here” as the tweet “turned out to be false”.
“She makes this statement. Never gives an apology or corrigendum. It is another fact that 3-4 days later he did give his resignation. You cannot make statements in the air without any basis or verification,” Luthra told the court.
Luthra said that in this case all ingredients of defamation have been made out. While reading out excerpts from Ramani’s cross examination, Luthra told the court that she deleted her Twitter account and did not retrieve it. “It is as good as destruction of evidence.”