Full text: Priya Ramani acquitted in MJ Akbar defamation case; FP report cited in verdict

The court, in its order, also made some important observations on sexual harassment, its effect on the survivors and the social stigma attached to it.

FP Staff February 17, 2021 18:05:00 IST
Full text: Priya Ramani acquitted in MJ Akbar defamation case; FP report cited in verdict

File images of MJ Akbar and Priya Ramani. PTI

The Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi on Wednesday acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in a criminal defamation complaint filed against her by former Union minister MJ Akbar for making sexual misconduct allegation against him.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey dismissed the complaint filed by Akbar saying that no charges were proved against Ramani. The judge also cited this Firstpost report which spoke to the women who survived sexual harassment by Akbar in his newsrooms.

Observing that "even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser", the court said that a woman has a right to put  her grievance before any platform of her choice, even after decades. In the 91-page verdict, the court observed that a person's "right of reputation can't be protected at the cost of right to dignity".

The court, in its order, also made some important observations on sexual harassment, its effect on the survivors and the social stigma attached to it.

"It cannot be ignored that most of the time, the offence of sexual harassment and sexual abuse (are) committed in the close doors or privately. Sometimes the victims herself does not understand what is happening to them or what is happening to them is wrong," the order observes.

"Despite how well respected some persons are in the society, they in their personal lives, could show extreme cruelty to the females," it further says. Here are some of the key bits from today's verdict:

"The court takes consideration of the systematic abuse at the workplace due to lack of the mechanism to redress the grievance of sexual harassment at the time of the incident of sexual harassment against the accused Priya Ramani and witness Ghazala Wahab prior to the issuance of Vishaka Guidelines by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and enactment of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, or their option to not lodge the complaint of sexual harassment due to the social stigma attached with the sexual harassment of women."

"Most of the women who suffer abuse do not speak up about it or against it for simple reason “ The Shame” or the social stigma attached with the sexual harassment and abuse. The sexual abuse, if committed against woman, takes away her dignity and her self-confidence. The attack on the character of sex abuser or offender by sex abuse victim, is the reaction of self defence after the mental trauma suffered by the victim regarding the shame attached with the crime committed against her. The woman cannot be punished for raising voice against the sex abuse on the pretext of criminal complaint of defamation as the right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of life and dignity of woman as guaranteed in Indian Constitution under article 21 and right of equality before law and equal protection of law as guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution. The woman has a right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice and even after decades."

Read the full text of the order here:

Delhi court order by payal gandhi on Scribd

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Ramani had in 2018 made sexual harassment allegations against Akabar, a former journalist. Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani on 15 October 2018, for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago He had resigned as Union minister on 17 October, 2018.

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

With inputs from PTI

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