Former Union Minister M J Akbar on Monday argued that he was called “media’s biggest sexual predator” without any research or investigation, and accused journalist Priya Ramani of making a false statement before the court regarding issuance of a corrigendum after her tweet about his reported resignation.
Ramani has been sued by Akbar for defamation over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. He resigned as MoS, External Affairs, in October 2018 after several women came forward with similar allegations against him. The case is at the stage of final arguments.
While referring to Ramani’s Vogue article and the line, which reads — “… as talented a predator as you were a writer”, Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra, representing Akbar, questioned the basis on which the conclusion was made and contended that the averments are based without any research and investigation. “When I read the accused’s statement, it does not show a single line of research carried out by her,” Luthra submitted.
While referring to a premature tweet made by Ramani regarding Akbar’s resignation on the basis of a news report, Luthra argued that Ramani made a false statement when she said she had written something under her tweet when she discovered that the then news of resignation was not correct. Ramani had later told the court that she could not find the clarification on her Twitter account.
“A journalist would normally care to verify this from the source. They could have checked up with the Ministry of External Affairs, they could have checked up with the complainant… that is the manner in which responsible journalism operates that you take both viewpoints and verify your source,” submitted Luthra, adding that Ramani cannot make an incorrect statement before the court and then say “my defence is the truth”.
Luthra submitted the “false” statement is fatal to defence as the “defence (Ramani) has to show the truth of each and every statement that they have made… which statement reduces the credibility as well as the respect and reputation of the complainant (Akbar)”.
The arguments were made before the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey during a brief hearing. The case will be now taken up for hearing on January 7.