Journalist Priya Ramani told a Delhi court on Wednesday that she “pleaded truth” as her defence in a criminal defamation complaint filed against her by former Union minister M J Akbar.
She told the court that her disclosure about alleged sexual misconduct by Akbar around 20 years ago when he was a journalist was made in good faith and for public good.
Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Ramani had said the allegations against Akbar, made in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, were her truth.
Ramani made the submission before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey through Senior Advocate Rebecca John.
“I have pleaded truth as my defense, that my disclosure was made in good faith, for public good. The reason I have done so because it touched a question of public importance.
“The court will have to come to a conclusion that although an imputation was made, no case for defamation is made out. At the very first instance, I specifically pleaded truth as my defense,” John said on behalf of Ramani.
John further showed the judge an order by Delhi High Court holding Akbar guilty of contempt of court.
She also informed the judge that Akbar had filed an affidavit before the HC tendering unconditional apology.
Her submission came in response to Akbar”s accusation that Ramani was reckless as a journalist while she tweeted about Akbar”s resignation.
Ramani had tweeted on October 14, 2018 that Akbar had resigned while he had not.
Akbar, however, resigned on October 17, 2018.
“When I questioned him about it (contempt matter), he feigned ignorance. They said my client as a journalist did not exercise due care and caution when she tweeted about Akbar”s resignation… much is made out of it. As an Editor of Asian Age, Mr Akbar was found guilty of contempt…
“My client at least had the grace to say that it (tweet dated October 14) was an honest mistake. Mr Akbar said he doesn”t even remember it,” she said.
The court has posted the matter for further hearing on December 5.
Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani in October 15, 2018.
Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by calling him with adjectives such as ”media”s biggest predator” that harmed his reputation.
Akbar has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during #MeToo campaign against him.
Over 20 women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by M J Akbar him while they were working as journalists under him.
He termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.