A Delhi court on Tuesday summoned senior journalist Priya Ramani on February 25 in a criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar accusing her of defaming him by alleging that he sexually assaulted several women journalists.
Summoning Ms. Ramani, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal said, “All that is necessary to take a prima facie view that the offence of defamation has been committed against the complainant by the respondent Ms. Priya Ramani exists on record, and therefore there are sufficient grounds to proceed against her. Accordingly Ms. Priya Ramani is summoned for commission of offence of defamation under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code.”
“The allegations of the respondent [Ms. Ramani] are prima facie defamatory and refers to complainant Mr. M.J. Akbar, therefore he is an aggrieved person within the meaning of Section 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to file this complainant,” the 23-page order said. “He has denied the allegations made against him by the respondent as false and imaginary. These defamatory statements have been published, widely read and particularly by the witnesses examined who deposed that the reputation of the complainant was lowered in their estimation. The inquiry as contemplated under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been duly conducted by examining the complainant and his witnesses to arrive at the conclusion for this stage of this case,” the order said.
“These witnesses also proved that the reputation of the complainant was lowered in their estimation, which again is an essential requirement of the offence of defamation. A person cannot be defamed in his own eyes. A man’s reputation is the estimate in which others holds him, not the good opinion which he has of himself. There has to be other reasonable, prudent and right thinking members of society, who says that the reputation of a person aggrieved is lowered in their estimation,’’ the order further said.
Ms. Ramani had reportedly accused Mr. Akbar of sexually assaulting women journalists. Mr. Akbar has sought Ms. Ramani’s prosecution for “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming” him.
In his complaint, Mr. Akbar cited an open letter by Ms. Ramani published in Vogue magazine last October and her tweets naming him. He sought her prosecution under Section 499 (defamation) and punishable under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code. The offence attracts a simple imprisonment of two years or fine or both.