After hearing case for two years, court seeks transfer of MJ Akbar's defamation suit against Priya Ramani
The magistrate said since this case was not filed against an MP/MLA, he was marking the matter to the principal district and sessions judge to consider re-assigning it to another metropolitan magistrate
New Delhi: After hearing for two years, a court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Tuesday asked the District Judge to transfer the criminal defamation complaint of former union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani to another judge on the ground that the court was designated to hear cases filed against lawmakers.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Vishal Pahuja, who had started the final arguments in the case on 7 February this year, said the case in hand is not filed against an MP or MLA and needs to be transferred to the "Competent Court of Jurisdiction".
Pahuja said his court (court of ACMM) was designated to try the cases filed against the lawmakers by a circular passed on 23 February, 2018 and since this case was not filed against MP/MLA, he was marking the matter to Principal District and Sessions Judge to consider re-assigning the case to another Metropolitan Magistrate.
Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani in March 2018. If transferred before another court, the judge would start hearing the final arguments again.
"As the present matter is not filed against MP/MLA, hence, cannot be tried by this court and needs to be transferred to the Competent Court of Jurisdiction. Let this matter be put up before the court of Principal District and Sessions Judge (Rouse Avenue District Courts) for October 14 for further appropriate orders," the ACMM said.
In the wake of #MeToo movement, Ramani in 2018, accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. Akbar resigned as Union minister on 17 October, 2018.
Ramani had earlier told the court that she was targeted selectively through a criminal defamation complaint by Akbar, to halt the avalanche of allegations of sexual misconduct that came out against him in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2008.
Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by calling him with adjectives such as 'media's biggest predator' that harmed his reputation. He has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during #MeToo campaign against him.
Akbar had earlier told the court that the allegations made in an article in the 'Vogue' and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed them to be false and imaginary and that immediate damage was caused to him due to the false allegations by Ramani.
Ramani had earlier told the court that her disclosure of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar has come at a great personal cost and she had nothing to gain from it.
She had said her move would empower women to speak up and make them understand their rights at workplace.
Several women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar while they were working as journalists under him.
He has termed the allegations false, fabricated and deeply distressing and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.
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