The Delhi court judge who was hearing former union minister MJ Akbar's defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani over sexual harassment charges levelled against him has been transferred to another court by the Delhi High court. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Vishal Pahuja, who presided over a special MP/MLA court in Rouse Avenue District Court, has now been transferred to Karkardooma District Court as Senior Civil Judge-cum-Rent Controller.
The judge Pahuja's name is among 215 judicial officers who were transferred and posted with immediate effect by a notification issued by the high court on Wednesday. Over 90 postings among them pertain to newly inducted officers in the Delhi Judicial Services. The order by Registrar General Manoj Jain listed the names of 168 judges who were transferred, and another 47 judicial officers who have been posted as Metropolitan Magistrates. The judicial officers shall be under the control of the Principal District and Sessions Judge of the District to which they have been allocated.
Recently, the District and Sessions Judge, Rouse Avenue, had refused to transfer Akbar's defamation case from the special MP/MLA court. The case is at the stage of final hearing and final arguments have been completed. The judgeâ€™s transfer would mean that the final arguments will have to be made again before the new judge who will now hear this case.
In October, ACMM Vishal Pahuja, who had started hearing the final arguments in the case on February 7 this year, had sent the matter to district and sessions judge, saying the case in hand was not filed against MP or MLA and needs to be transferred to the "Competent Court of Jurisdiction.â€ť He had said his court (court of ACMM) was designated to try the cases filed against lawmakers, and not by lawmakers as per a circular passed on February 23, 2018 and since this case was not filed against an MP or MLA, he was marking the matter to Principal District and Sessions Judge to consider re-assigning the case to another Metropolitan Magistrate. However, that case was sent back to Rouse Avenue Court and will continued to be heard there.
MJ Akbar had filed the criminal defamation case in October 2018. During the #MeToo movement, Priya Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. Later, around 30 women also testified to the alleged sexual harassment by him while they were working as journalists under him. Akbar resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018. He has denied all the allegations.
With PTI inputs