Rebutting journalist Priya Ramani’s final arguments, former Union minister M J Akbar’s lawyers told a Delhi court on Tuesday that he is not facing a sexual harassment case, and thus the argument that he did not take action against other women who made allegations against him is not legally tenable.
Akbar has sued Ramani for defamation over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. With several other women making similar allegations against him, Akbar resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs in October 2018.
Making her rebuttal before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Pandey, Akbar’s lawyer, senior advocate Geeta Luthra, said, “I heard their arguments and wondered if I was the accused. I read the file again. I am the complainant. She has not filed the defamation complaint. My reputation was tarnished. They talk of sacrifices…it is easy to speak. It is a defamation case, and not a sexual harassment case that she has filed. Their defence that why other women (who spoke out against Akbar) were not made an accused is not a legally tenable argument.”
While talking about Akbar’s reputation, Luthra told the court, “You have to work every day to build such a reputation. Akbar is a top journalist in India. He worked for 40 years, during which there was not a single allegation against him. In 2018, you said something for the first time and tarnished my reputation of 40 years.”
When Ramani’s lawyer, senior advocate Rebecca John, was concluding her arguments, she told the court that Akbar did not come with clean hands and played a fraud with the court.
Luthra told the court, “During their arguments they used words like fraud. This can be another case of defamation. What is the definition of fraud ? I am a respectable person. That is how I became a Member of Parliament.”
Luthra added, “Ramani herself says that Akbar was her personal hero. On what basis are they saying that Akbar had no reputation…. A person’s unblemished name makes them a professional hero. She herself says you are a professional hero.”
Luthra’s rebuttal could not be completed and will continue on December 24.