A Delhi court Monday granted bail to journalist Priya Ramani, who was summoned as an accused in a criminal defamation case filed by former Union minister M J Akbar, after she accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct in a series of tweets in October 2018 as part of the #MeToo campaign in India.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal granted bail on furnishing of bond and surety of Rs 10,000.
Appearing for Ramani, senior advocate Rebecca M John submitted that “since defamation is a bailable offence, Ramani was entitled to bail”. The lawyer also sought exemption from personal appearance, saying that appearing regularly for the hearings would be difficult for Ramani as she is a permanent Bengaluru resident and a mother.
Akbar’s counsel opposed the exemption application and said they want to respond to the same, which the court allowed.
John said, “Your client (Akbar) isn’t even here when he’s required to be here. In a complaint case, the complainant should be present during the hearing.”
The court, however, said the exemption application will be heard on April 10. “It will now be my turn to tell my story. The truth is my defence,” Ramani told the media after the hearing.
Ramani has appeared in pursuance to the trial court’s January 29 order, by which she was asked to put her defence in court.
After Ramani and several other woman accused Akbar of sexual harassment, the minister had resigned from the Union Cabinet on October 17 last year.
To establish that Ramani’s allegations “tarnished” his reputation, Akbar had recorded statements of six witnesses who were associated with him at a professional and personal level. They have deposed that they were “shocked” and “dismayed” after reading Ramani’s tweets, and that Akbar’s reputation has been affected.
Akbar, a Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, has termed the allegations false and imaginary.