A Delhi court on Saturday asked former Union minister MJ Akbar and journalist Priya Ramani whether there was a chance of settlement between them in a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against her. Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. Ramani had said the allegations against Akbar, made in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, were her truth and were made in public good.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey posed the query on Saturday as he started hearing afresh the final arguments in the case since the previous judge hearing the matter was transferred to another court on Wednesday. Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Akbar, said she needed time to talk to her client before making a decision on the issue.
The counsel for Ramani, advocate Bhavook Chauhan, said there was less chance of any settlement since the facts of the case were peculiar. The court asked both the parties to respond on the point of settlement and get back on November 24, the next date of hearing.
The previous judge, ACMM Vishal Pahuja, had started hearing the final arguments in the case on February 7 this year. Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani on October 15, 2018. He resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018. Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by calling him adjectives such as 'media's biggest predator' that harmed his reputation.
Over 20 women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by M J Akbar while they were working as journalists under him He has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment by women who came forward during #MeToo movement against him. He termed the allegations "false, fabricated and deeply distressin" and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.