MJ Akbar #MeToo case: 'Priya Ramani had no right to accuse me of sexual harassment'

Malini T
·3 min read
File: MJ Akbar appeared at Patiala house court for a hearing in the sexual harassment case filed against him on October 31, 2018 in New Delhi. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
File: MJ Akbar appeared at Patiala house court for a hearing in the sexual harassment case filed against him on October 31, 2018 in New Delhi. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

New Delhi: Former Union minister MJ Akbar told a Delhi court on Thursday that journalist Priya Ramani had ‘no right’ to accuse him of sexual misconduct that allegedly took place decades ago as she could not prove it.

The remedy against misconduct at the workplace was always available and that Ramani's accusations were not in good faith or in the public interest, he said. {Firms told to watch staff for domestic abuse signs}

Akbar made the submission before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar through senior advocate Geeta Luthra during the final hearing in a criminal complaint filed by him against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct more than 20 years ago when he was a journalist.

Senior journalist Priya Ramani seen outside the Patiala House Court after getting bail in a defamation case filed by former MJ Akbar on February 25, 2019 in New Delhi. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Senior journalist Priya Ramani seen outside the Patiala House Court after getting bail in a defamation case filed by former MJ Akbar on February 25, 2019 in New Delhi. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Ramani had made allegations against Akbar in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018.

“Ramani called Akbar media's biggest predator. When you cast an aspersion on someone, you have to show evidence and what investigation you have done. After 25-30 years, you don't go to court. You say there was no law. What is this law which was not present since 1860,” Luthra asked.

She said there was no evidence, proof, or verification of what Ramani accused.

“This witness (Ramani) has no truth. There is no evidence, proof, or verification. Irresponsible statements like calling someone a predator was made,” she said.

She added there were “thousands of tweets, reporting in newspapers, magazines. What could she have done more to damage my (Akbar) reputation? It came at no cost to her. The cost is to Akbar.” “For her, it was something said irresponsibly without good faith, due process. This is not in good faith. I can say it is not in the public interest. She has no basis to call him a predator,” she said.

The counsel further said that Ramani maligned Akbar and her allegations spread like wildfire.

“Remedy against misconduct at the workplace was always available. You cannot make allegations without due process after 2-3 decades. Because you cannot prove it and it's false, you don't have the right to do it. Ramani maligned Akbar and her tweets and allegations spread like wildfire,” she said.

The court will further hear the matter on January 18.

Akbar had filed a criminal defamation complaint against Ramani on October 15, 2018. He resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018.

#MeToo: Pakistani artist seeks Rs 500 million as compensation from Ali Zafar

‘MeToo is not a bullet train’: Actress who started the movement in Bollywood

Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by calling him with adjectives such as 'media's biggest predator' that harmed his reputation.

He has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during #MeToo campaign against him.

Over 20 women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar while they were working as journalists under him.

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