Responding to the criminal defamation charges levelled against her by Union minister MJ Akbar, journalist Priya Ramani has said that she is ready to fight the lawsuit with “truth as her only defence”. Akbar on Monday filed a criminal defamation case in Delhi’s Patiala House court against Ramani, accusing her of “willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him. Ramani, along with over 10 other women, had accused Akbar of sexual harassment.
In a detailed statement on her Twitter handle, Ramani wrote that she is deeply disappointed that a union minister dismissed the allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. Akbar, in his first statement in the entire matter, had said Sunday that the allegations of sexual harassment against him were “false and fabricated” and that they were being circulated as part of an agenda ahead of upcoming general elections.
Ramani further wrote that by instituting a case of criminal defamation against her, Akbar has made his stand clear. “Rather than engaging with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment,” the statement read.
My statement pic.twitter.com/1W7M2lDqPN
— Priya Ramani (@priyaramani) October 15, 2018
Ramani also defended the women who alleged sexual harassment by Akbar, stating that at the time of these incidents, they were working for him. Those who have spoken up against Akbar have done so at a great risk to their personal and professional lives, the statement read.
Earlier today, Akbar filed criminal defamation charges against Ramani through his advocates Karanjawala and Co. and sought the issuance of notice to Ramani under section 499 (defamation) and section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 500 of the IPC provides that an accused may be awarded two years jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.
In line with his Sunday’s statement, the complaint mentions the accusations being circulated “in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda”. It termed the allegations made by Ramani as “scandalous” and “very tone and tenor” ex-facie defamatory. It also stated that the allegations have not only damaged the minster’s goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected his reputation in the community and friends, family and colleagues, causing irreparable loss and tremendous distress.
Ramani was the first woman who had accused Akbar of sexual harassment. In a tweet on October 8, she had revealed that an article she had written last year about an editor inviting her to his hotel room for a job interview and asking her to sit on the bed with him, was Akbar. Ramani, formerly of India Today, The Indian Express, and Mint, went on to join Akbar’s team at the Asian Age. Several other women journalists who had worked with Akbar followed with similar accounts, and some of them spoke to The Indian Express about their experiences.