Former Minister MJ Akbar has filed a complaint against Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct.

Editors Guild urges MJ Akbar to drop defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani
news Sexual Harassment Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 13:09

After multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against MJ Akbar, the former Minister of State for External Affairs resigned on Wednesday. However, prior to that, he filed a defamation complaint against Priya Ramani, the first journalist to have accused him of sexual misconduct. In a statement on Wednesday, the Editors Guild of India hoped that he would withdraw the complaint, which will be taken up by Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Thursday.

“We hope that Mr Akbar will also display the grace to withdraw the criminal defamation case he has filed against one of these complainants. While Mr Akbar is entitled to all legal instruments available to a citizen to seek vindication, it would be paradoxical for a veteran editor to employ the instrument of criminal defamation. More so for Mr Akbar who happens to be a former president of the Guild,” the statement said.

The Guild further stated that in case MJ Akbar did not withdraw his complaint or filed a complaint against other women, then they would support the women in any way they can through legal advice or assistance. The Guild would also appeal to lawyers to represent the women pro-bono.

Following MJ Akbar’s complaint of defamation against Priya Ramani, twenty women who worked with MJ Akbar during his career as a journalist have asked the court to consider their testimonies of being subject to MJ Akbar’s sexual harassment and misconduct, or as a witness to the same.

Sixteen women have named MJ Akbar in online posts accusing him of sexual harassment and misconduct. There was a common pattern to survivors' accounts — 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.   

Calls for MJ Akbar’s resignation grew louder after the women 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 a statement, he defended himself, and said that the allegations were “wild and baseless.”

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