Union Minister M.J. Akbar's defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who had accused him of sexual harassment, will be heard on Thursday, October 18.
"The defamation case will be heard by a magisterial court in the Patiala House court complex on October 18," Akbar's Counsel Sandeep Kapur said on Tuesday.
Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by several women journalists who had worked under his editorial leadership at various publications. He has denied the charges as "false, wild and baseless".
Akbar, in his complaint, said that it was apparent that the false narrative against him was being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfilment of an agenda.
Around a dozen women journalists have accused Akbar of sexual harassment and molestation, triggering demands for his ouster as the Minister of State for External Affairs.
Countering the charges, Akbar claimed that the false and defamatory statements that were widely published in the media had caused irreparable loss to his reputation.
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.
Meanwhile, responding to Akbar's statement, Ramani said the central minister is trying to "silence" the voices "through intimidation and harassment".
"I am deeply disappointed that a Union Minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear," Ramani said in a statement that she shared on the social media.
She added that she would fight allegations of defamation as "truth and absolute truth is my only defence".
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.