Priya Ramani acquitted in MJ Akbar defamation case: 'Happy and proud', 'watershed moment'; journalists hail Delhi court's verdict

Ramani had made allegation of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018. Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani on 15 October, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago

FP Staff February 17, 2021 16:23:57 IST
Priya Ramani acquitted in MJ Akbar defamation case: 'Happy and proud', 'watershed moment'; journalists hail Delhi court's verdict

File image of journalist Priya Ramani. Image courtesy: Natasha Badhwar

The acquittal of journalist Priya Ramani in a criminal defamation case filed by former Union minister MJ Akbar by a Delhi court saw many prominent women journalists take to Twitter to celebrate the verdict and hail the "huge step forward for gender justice".

Akbar had sued Ramani around two years ago after she, apart from at least 20 other women, went public with allegations of sexual assault against the journalist-turned-politician as part of the #MeToo movement in India.

In its judgment, the Delhi court observed that even though Akbar was a man of reputation, a man of high social status can still be a sexual harasser, Bar & Bench reported.

Here are some reactions by prominent journalists:

Barkha Dutt, posting on social media, said she was happy and proud to be in court today:

Swati Chaturvedi praised the Delhi court judge:

News18 political editor Marya Shakil called it a watershed moment for women in India:

Anoo Bhuyan asked everyone criticising the #MeToo movement to read the judgement:

Gargi Rawat hailed the fight shown by Ramani:

Sagarika Ghose called the verdict a big win for all women in India:

Journalist and writer Namita Bhandare thanked all the women who stood up at great personal risk:

Ismat Ara tweeted a photo of Ramani after she came out of the courtroom:

Namita Bhandare called the verdict a "resounding victory for India's women":

Rituparna Chatterjee said Ramani took a movement that "failed a lot of us" and fought to the end:

CPIML Politburo member Kavita Krishnan said Ramani stood vindicated:

 

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, calling the verdict a big win for women in general, thanked Ramani for speaking up:

 

Union minister Smriti Irani, reacting to the development, said "due protection had been given to women" by law, NDTV reported.

"I have stated this before, due protection has been given to women and the protectors of law can take action based on their statements," Irani told reporters when the news came in during her press briefing, as per NDTV.

 

The court had on 1 February reserved the judgment for 10 February after Akbar and Ramani completed their arguments.

However, on 10 February, the court deferred the judgment for 17 February, saying the verdict was not complete since both the parties filed their written submission late.

Ramani had made allegations of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018.

Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani on 15 October, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago.

He resigned as a Union minister on 17 October, 2018.

He has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during the #MeToo campaign against him.

Earlier, during the arguments on the case, senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Ramani, said that Akbar should not get any relief as he chose to target Ramani to target other women.

"Why was Akbar not aggrieved by graver allegations made by Ghazala Wahab and Pallavi Gogoi. As charges became graver, Akbar became unsure. Wahab's allegations were of six months of sexual assault and harassment. Akbar opposed Gogoi's statement saying it was not rape but consensual relationship," John said.

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.

With inputs from PTI

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