Delhi

#MeToo: Never heard of allegations of sexual misconduct by M.J. Akbar, witnesses tell court

M.J. Akbar. File

M.J. Akbar. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The former Minister of State filed a private criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani after his name cropped up on social media during the #MeToo campaign in India last year.

Two witnesses, appearing in support of the criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar, told a Delhi court on Wednesday that they have never heard of anything resembling the allegations levelled by journalist Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct.

Tapan Chaki, a corporate communications consultant based in Kolkata, and Sunil Gujral, a businessman and Mr. Akbar’s neighbour in Kolkata, deposed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.

“There has never been an occasion where anybody has mentioned anything remotely resembling such allegations,” Mr. Chaki. “The tweets and publications by Priya Ramani have caused enormous damage to his reputation,” he added.

Mr. Gujral told the court that he has never heard anything negative about Mr. Akbar and that his reputation in society was impeccable.

The court will now take up the matter on August 2.

Mr. Akbar, who had resigned as Minister of State on October 17 last year following the sexual misconduct allegations levelled against him, told the court that Ms. Ramani’s tweets used language that was “deeply offensive, maligning, in bad faith, and a web of fabrication spun out of the lies.”

Mr. Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ms. Ramani after his name cropped up on social media when the #MeToo campaign raged in India last year.

Ms. Ramani accused Mr. Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. He has denied the accusations.

Mr. Akbar had earlier told the court that the allegations made in an article in the magazine Vogue and the subsequent tweets were defamatory in nature. He had deposed them to be false and imaginary.

He had told the court in his statement that an “immediate damage” has been caused to him due to the “scurrilous, concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct.”

Multiple women have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment involving Mr. Akbar while he was working as a journalist.

Mr. Akbar has termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 7:51:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/metoo-never-heard-of-allegations-of-sexual-misconduct-by-m-j-akbar-witnesses-tell-court/article28520685.ece

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