'Time to tell our side of story', says journalist Priya Ramani after Delhi court's summon in defamation case filed by MJ Akbar
Priya Ramani was one of the first women to come forward about the MJ Akbar's harassment
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal issued the direction on MJ Akbar's plea
On 22 January, the Delhi court had reserved its order on whether to summon Priya Ramani as an accused in the defamation case
MJ Akbar resigned as Union minister on 17 October, 2018
Months after journalist Priya Ramani levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against former Union minister MJ Akbar during the #MeToo campaign in India and a subsequent criminal defamation complaint against the scribe by Akbar, Delhi's Patiala House Court on Tuesday summoned Ramani to appear as an accused on 25 February. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal issued the direction on Akbar's plea. On 22 January, the Delhi court had reserved its order on whether to summon Ramani as an accused in the defamation case.
Reacting to the summon, Ramani sent out a tweet saying it was time to tell "our side of the story."
Time to tell our side of the story https://t.co/q5H9jTZ4UJ
— Priya Ramani (@priyaramani) January 29, 2019
Coming out in support of Ramani was also Kenyan poet and activist Shailja Patel, who thanked her for "leading the battle for justice".
Akbar, who resigned as Union minister on 17 October, 2018, had filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after his name cropped up on social media when he was in Nigeria as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India. Ramani has accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago, which was denied by him.
She was one of the first women to come forward about Akbar's harassment, who is the former Minister of State for External Affairs. In all, 20 women had accused him of sexual misconduct when he worked as editor of The Asian Age. The Editors' Guild of India had earlier suspended Akbar from membership till the defamation case came to its logical conclusion.
Akbar had claimed these allegations "false and fabricated." To prove that Ramani's tweets had tarnished his reputation, Akbar also recorded the statement of six witnesses who had worked with him closely on a professional and personal level. The witnesses backed Akbar and said they had never heard of any complaint against the BJP leader.
They also supported his statement saying Ramani's statements were "scurrilous" in nature. Thereby, senior advocate Geeta Luthra and Sandeep Kapur, appearing for him, had told the court that Ramani "damaged" Akbar's reputation.
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MJ Akbar vs Priya Ramani: District judge sends defamation case back to Rouse Avenue Court magistrate
The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, who heard the case for two years, had sought a transfer of the matter on the ground that his court was designated to hear cases against lawmakers
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
MJ Akbar versus Priya Ramani: Delhi court to pass order on transfer of defamation suit on 22 October
Principal District and Sessions Judge Sujata Kohli pointed out that if it is found that the magisterial court trying the matter did not have jurisdiction, the entire trial, and not just the final argument, gets vitiated