#MeToo: Akbar tells court no meeting with Ramani in hotel

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New Delhi, Dec 24 (PTI) Former Union minister M J Akbar Thursday said before a Delhi court that there was no meeting between him and journalist Priya Ramani in the hotel where she alleges that he sexually misbehaved with her.

Akbar made the submission during the final hearing of a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Ramani for accusing him of sexual misconduct 20 years ago when he was a journalist.

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

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Akbar, said: “The moment a meeting is denied, further questions are not warranted. None of the suggestions are warranted. The meeting in the hotel is denied.

“What part of the incident has not been addressed? They say complainant has avoided the meeting. When I (Akbar) have denied it, where is the issue of not addressing.” She said that when Akbar has denied the meeting, “there can't be a question of whether sofa was blue or pink... Completely misleading to say that I didn't address”.

“You (Ramani) haven't proved any date, hotel register, CCTV or ticket of entry in car parking. You haven't proved anything,” she added.

Luthra further said delayed allegations are not permissible in a court of law. “Principles of rule of law and natural justice say that you cannot make averments on a social media portal some 30-40 years later and tell a person that this is what happened. It has to be responsible and with evidence. Delay defeats the ends of justice,' she said.

Ramani had earlier said that she made the allegations in 2018 as there was a global movement where women from all walks of life were calling out the persons who sexually assaulted them in the past.

The hearing remained inconclusive and the court will resume the proceedings on January 4.

Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani should have taken recourse to law instead of making allegation of sexual misconduct against him on social media.

Ramani had earlier said her allegations of sexual misconduct against Akbar were her truth and were made in public good.

She disputed Akbar's claims of having a stellar reputation “that had been tarnished by her allegation”.

Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani in October 15, 2018.

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

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.

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

Over 20 women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar him while they were working as journalists under him.

He termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them. PTI UK SA