Ramani pleads truth as her defence before court

Journalist Priya Ramani on Wednesday pleaded truth as her defence before a Delhi court in response to a criminal defamation suit filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar for her tweets accusing him of sexual harassment.

Ms. Ramani said that her tweet and subsequent article on Vogue magazine alleging Mr. Akbar of sexual harassment during his previous role as newspaper editor was made in “good faith” and for public good.The reason for the tweet and the article, Ms. Ramani said, was because “it touched a question of public importance”.

Senior advocate Rebecca John appearing for Ms. Ramani argued that the court will have to come to a conclusion that although an imputation was made, no case for defamation is made out.

Ms. John highlighted exceptions in section 499 of the IPC on defamation, which says that it is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person, if it be for the public good that the imputation should be made or published. Whether or not the imputation is for the public good is a question of fact that the court has to decide, Ms. John argued.

At the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018, Ms. Ramani accused Mr. Akbar of sexual harassment. Following Ms. Ramani’s accusation, about a dozen former colleagues of Mr. Akbar also came out with different allegations against him.

Days before he resigned from his post of Minister of State for External Affairs in October 2018, Mr. Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against Ms. Ramani, citing her open letter published in a magazine and her tweets naming him.

Ms. Ramani has maintained that the criminal case was initiated to create a chilling effect against women who spoke out about their experience of sexual harassments at his hands.

Mr. Akbar has claimed that Ms. Ramani’s tweet and article accusing him of sexual harassment were defamatory and lowered his reputation. He has also alleged that Ms. Ramani didn’t produce any evidence to prove her story.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 7:44:17 AM |

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