Updated: January 28, 2021 8:30:23 am
Responding to former Union minister M J Akbar’s rebuttal, journalist Priya Ramani, facing trial in a criminal defamation case, told a Delhi court through her lawyer on Wednesday that “no human being accused of sexual harassment can be a person of high reputation”.
Akbar has sued Ramani 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 2018.
The submissions were made by Senior Advocate Rebecca John on behalf of Ramani before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rabindra Sange Kumar Pandey. Her response could not be concluded and will continue on February 1.
In the first half of the hearing, Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra concluded her rebuttal on behalf of Akbar by telling the court, “I have been harmed, I seek justice from this court. I have no other way.”
John began her response by saying that the Vogue article’s introduction was “not the whole piece” and that “the rest of the article was about the behaviour of male bosses and allegations against Harvey Weinstein”. She said that “under no stretch of imagination” could it be argued that the entire article was on her experience with Akbar.
On the charges of plagiarism in the article, John said, “Priya Ramani in her evidence stated that these portions were taken from these articles as a representation of what Harvey Weinstein did to multiple women… Priya used these phrases to show what men like Harvey Weinstein do… These are examples of what women go through while being sexually harassed by their bosses. To say it is plagiarism is absurd.”
On Akbar’s reputation, John told the court that “the contestation of Akbar’s reputation is on the basis of the allegations against him”. “They opened the door of Akbar being a man of great reputation. I have every right to contest it through my own evidence and the evidence of Ghazala Wahab.”
On Ramani calling Akbar a predator, Luthra told the court, “We have to look at it through her lens unless there is perversity. For predator, my friend cited two legal dictionaries. When ordinary people write, they don’t use legal dictionaries. Ordinary people understand ordinary meanings.”
John told the court that “ten women had admittedly made allegations against Akbar”. “She is naming them and if this doesn’t show predatory behaviour, nothing does.”
“Till October 10, ten women had narrated their personal experience. This usage was not defamatory. The imputation is the truth. You cannot look at defamation in isolation,” John told the court.
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