97 lawyers to represent MJ Akbar in defamation suit against Priya Ramani; Twitter users say 'bring it on'

FP Staff
MJ Akbar, former Union minister and editor, is expected to appear in a magistrate court in Delhi's Patiala House complex today in connection with the criminal defamation suit he filed against journalist Priya Ramani.

Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar on Monday filed a criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani who recently levelled charges of sexual misconduct against him. To defend Akbar in this case, 97 lawyers of a law firm have been roped in, according to media reports.

News18 reported that law firm Karanjawala & Co, hired to defend Akbar, called the mention of the 97 advocates in the Vakalatnama as the "standard practice", and said only six are meant to appear in the court for him.

"Our firm has 100 lawyers. We usually have all the names printed in one vakalatnama with only the ones who will appear in the case signing it. Our criminal team has six members and only those six will appear in this case. Only they have signed the vakalatnama," a spokesperson of the firm was quoted as saying by News18.

However, the news about 97 lawyers working to defend Akbar drew sharp reactions on social media. Pointing that this showed the consequences "lone voices" have to face for speaking out, several journalists and other Twitter users sided with Ramani.

 

 

Journalist Sucheta Dalal suggested Ramani and others who have accused Akbar of harassment should crowdfund their side in court.

Several women journalists have accused Akbar of sexual harassment, leading to a growing demand for his ouster as the Minister of State for External Affairs. In a statement on Sunday, he denied the charges as "false, wild and baseless".

In his complaint, Akbar said that it was apparent that the false narrative against him was being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfilment of an agenda.

Following the filing of complaint, Ramani said in a statement that she was "deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy". "By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment," she said.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: #MeToo in India: Online abuse and criticism mar social media crusade against sexual harassment which is outing abusers

MJ Akbar denies 'false and fabricated' sexual misconduct charges, to take legal action; no clarity on resignation yet

'So many have an MJ story': Sexual assault charges against MoS of foreign affairs mount, boss Sushma dodges media

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