A smiling Priya Ramani was seen walking out of courtroom number 203 of Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court after she was acquitted in the criminal defamation case filed against her by former Union Minister MJ Akbar, whom she had accused of sexual harassment. Addressing the media outside, Priya said it feels amazing and that she feels vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment has got the attention it deserves. Despite the fact that it was me the victim who had to stand up in court as the accused. I thank everyone who stood by me especially my witnesses Ghazala Wahab and Niloufer Venkataraman who came to court and testified on my behalf. I thank the court for this verdict. I thank my lawyers, Rebecca John and her amazing team, who believed in me and in the wider cause. They put their heart and soul into this,” Priya said.
“I hope it will make more women speak up, and I also hope it will discourage powerful men, from filing false cases against women who share their truths,” Priya said while speaking to NDTV.
Acquitting Priya of the charge of defamation on Wednesday, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Pandey said that “even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser" and that “a woman has right to put her grievance even after decades."
Speaking to the media, Priya’s lawyer Rebecca John said this was a very difficult trial and called it the most important case of her career.
“It was very very difficult. You saw how difficult it was inside the court to get your word across. It was an extremely difficult trial to do. It was also challenging with respect to many of the defences we pleaded because these are defences that people normally don't take. In that sense, I think when you fight powerful people, you have only truth on your side. The journey becomes very relevant to you personally. I think this is probably the most important case of my career,” John told the media.
Wednesday's verdict brings to close a trial that has spanned two years after former Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs MJ Akbar filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for accusing him of sexual harassment during the Me Too movement of 2018.