#MeToo: Priya Ramani made 'defamatory' statement out of vengeance, Akbar tells court

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) Former union minister M J Akbar Tuesday told a Delhi court that journalist Priya Ramani did not make “defamatory” statements for the public good but out of vengeance.

Akbar made the statement before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Vishal Pahuja through his lawyer during the final arguments in a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against Ramani.

In the wake of #MeToo movement, Ramani in 2018 accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Akbar, told the court that, “Ramani didn't make these statements (termed by Akbar as defamatory) for the public good, she made them out of vengeance. She didn't even apologise for a factually incorrect statement.” “Ramani didn't produce any landline records, parking receipts, no CCTV footage, nothing. She didn't produce any evidence to prove her story,” the counsel said.

The counsel claimed that Ramani wrote a fictitious piece in the magazine -- Vogue -- in context of #MeToo movement with a mala fide intention as she “intended to tarnish the reputation of Akbar.” “Wreckless statements against Akbar were put in a public place without any care or caution... The per se effect of Ramani's statements was defamatory, damaging the reputation of Akbar,” the counsel said. Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani in March 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.

Several women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by Akbar 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 RKS RKS