MJ Akbar sues Priya Ramani for criminal defamation amid harassment charges, accuses her of 'harming his goodwill'

Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, who is facing a slew of accusations of sexual misconduct during years as a journalist, on Monday filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani. It was in response to Ramani's October 2017 article in the Vogue, which she replugged on Twitter on 8 October, that several women spoke up with their own stories of the Union minister and his allegedly relentless advances towards them.

A criminal defamation case, as against a civil defamation case, is significant as an accused could be sent to jail if found guilty. Akbar filed the criminal defamation case against Ramani in Delhi's Patiala House Court through his advocates Karanjawala and Co. The case is expected to be heard in the post-lunch session on Tuesday, CNN-News18 reported.

 MJ Akbar sues Priya Ramani for criminal defamation amid harassment charges, accuses her of harming his goodwill

File photos of MJ Akbar and Priya Ramani.

The complaint was filed under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, "for making false and defamatory statements in print/electronic media". Akbar has accused Ramani of "willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming" him on "wholly and completely false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous grounds", thereby harming his "goodwill and reputation".

This comes a day after he rubbished all the allegations at least 14 women made against him as "false, wild and baseless" and said he would be taking "appropriate legal action". In his statement, he had named Ramani, who was the first to call him out publicly for sexual harassment. In her article in Vogue, she had not named Akbar, but she revealed his identity in a tweet as the #MeToo movement gained ground in India.

"I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn't 'do' anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator—maybe they’ll share," Ramani had tweeted.

Here's a copy of Akbar's criminal defamation suit:

Mj Akbar vs Priya Ramani by Firstpost on Scribd


So far, at least 14 women have accused Akbar of sexual harassment when they worked with him during his years in the newsroom. Th women have recounted their ordeals with Akbar right from the 1980s till as recently as in in 2010-2011. Their accounts include details of his "predatory tactics" and incidents ranging from sexual harassment, sexism and abuse of power in his capacity as an editor.

While mentioning Ramani in his statement on Sunday, Akbar said: "Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not, however, name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a tweet: 'Never named him because he didn't 'do' anything.'"

In his complaint, too, Akbar mentioned that in her "defamatory statements", Ramani "admits that the complainant has not done anything to her". "...The said defamatory articles are only a figment of her imagination and are only intended to malign the reputation of the complainant," he stated in the complaint.

Along with his complaint, Akbar attached copies of a number of articles that detail the women's statements.

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Updated Date: Jan 08, 2019 13:15:38 IST