Akbar-Priya Ramani Case: Ghazala Wahab to Testify in Court Today

Senior journalist Priya Ramani, who is fighting a criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar last year, will be bringing another witness – senior journalist Ghazala Wahab to testify at the court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja on Tuesday, 10 December.

MJ Akbar was accused by several women of sexual harassment, assault, and even rape (by one woman), in the wake of the #MeToo movement in October 2018.

He, in turn, filed a defamation case against Priya Ramani, who had revealed in a tweet at the time that the beginning of an article she’d written the previous year was her #MeToo story about Akbar.

Last month, in the previous hearing on 21 November, Ramani brought to court her close friend Niloufer Venkatraman, who corroborated her testimony.

In an article in The Wire on 12 October 2018, Wahab detailed the sexual and mental harassment that Akbar put her through while working as a young journalist at The Asian Age newspaper.

"“His eyes fell on me. And my nightmare began. My desk was shifted to just outside his cabin, perpendicularly opposite his desk, so that if the door to his room was left slightly open, I was face to face with him. He would sit at his desk and watch me all the time, often sending me lewd messages on the Asian Age intranet network. Thereafter, emboldened by my obvious helplessness, he started calling me into his cabin (the door to which he would always shut) for conversation, most of which was personal in nature. Things like my family background and how I was working and living alone in Delhi against the wishes of my parents.”" - Ghazala Wahab in The Wire

After she came out with her disclosure 21 years later, she told The Quint on 18 October 2018 that she wanted to do her bit for the #MeToo movement.

"“When the story started coming out on social media, I thought of adding my bit to the Twitter. But I held myself back as I did not want part of something which was flimsy and could not stand ground so I deliberated on it and lot of my former colleagues were sending me messages that I must come out with my story.”" - Wahab to The Quint

Also Read: Outrage Over Questions to Priya Ramani by MJ Akbar’s Lawyers

What’s Happened So Far

Akbar filed a criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after she accused him of sexual harassment as the #MeToo campaign raged in India last year.

Ramani has already testified as the first defence witness in the case wherein she recalled the entire timeline of events since 1993 – right from her "uncomfortable" interview with Akbar to leaving his office and never working with him again.

Her friend Niloufer Venkatraman has testified as the second defence witness.

In the previous hearing, Venkatraman had recounted what Ramani had allegedly told her on the night of her 1993 interview with MJ Akbar.

"“Priya called me on my landline. She sounded upset and distraught. I asked her why she sounded so upset. She told me that the interview hadn’t gone as we had expected. To begin with, it was not conducted in the coffee shop or lobby. Instead, she had been called upto Mr Akbar’s room where they were alone. She went on to describe her extremely uncomfortable details of what had happened a few hours earlier.”"

On 23 August, Ramani had begun her statement under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to the court and said, “I defend the truth spoken in public interest and for the public good. It is only now that sexual harassment at workplace is regarded as a serious offence.”

Akbar resigned as a Union Minister on 17 October 2018.

Also Read: MJ Akbar Case: Akbar’s Lawyer Asks People to Stop Live Tweeting

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