Journalist Priya Ramani was the first to come out with her account, accusing MoS MEA MJ Akbar of sexual harassment.

Attempt to intimidate MJ Akbar files for defamation against Priya Ramani for Me TooFacebook
news MeToo Monday, October 15, 2018 - 15:17

Central Minister MJ Akbar, accused of sexual harassment by 14 women, has filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first to come out with her account as part of the Me Too movement. The case has been filed in New Delhi’s Patiala House Court through Akbar’s advocates, Karanjawala and Co, in what is being viewed as an attempt to intimidate.

In his complaint, Akbar has stated that Ramani “resorted to a series of maliciously fabricated allegations, which she is diabolically and viciously spreading using media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the Complainant is being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfillment of an agenda.”

“the scandalous allegations leveled by the Accused against the Complainant herein, by their very tone & tenor, are ex facie defamatory and have not only damaged the goodwill and reputation of the Complainant, in his social circles and on the political stage, established after years of toil and hard work, but have also affected the personal reputation of the Complainant in the community, friends, family and colleagues, thereby causing him irreparable loss and tremendous distress,” the complaint adds.

Akbar states that through her statements made to the media and on her social  media profiles, Ramani “committed the offence of ‘defamation' as defined under Section 499 IPC and made punishable under Section 500 IPC.”

The minister, who currently serves as the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs returned to India on Sunday and issued a statement denying the charges against him, claiming the allegations were a ‘conspiracy’ ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He had stated that he will be taking legal action against the accusers.

Calls for the minister to step down had grown louder after 14 women – Priya Ramani, Shuma Raha, Prerna Singh, Kanika Gahlaut, Suparna Sharma, Harinder Baweja, Saba Naqvi, Shutapa Paul, Ghazala Wahab, Anju Bharti, Kadambari Wade, Ruth David, Malini Bhupta and Majile de Puy Kamp – had put on record their gut-wrenching stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour by the minister during his time as a journalist.

In his statement, the minister called the allegations against him as “false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice.”

“Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action,” MJ Akbar had said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the women who spoke out against MJ Akbar have stated that they stand by their accusations and will fight the legal case. Speaking to The Telegraph, Priya Ramani said: "The truth is the best defence in any defamation case. I’m not worried."

MJ Akbar has previously held various senior positions in multiple news media organisations, including The Telegraph, Asian Age and India Today.

The accounts by journalists who worked under him all describe a common pattern in his behaviour – he would set up job interviews with aspiring women journalists in hotel rooms, repeatedly call them to his office cabin for meaningless conversation and chatter, entice them with major stories, send them out of the workplace and meet them at a hotel at odd hours.

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