New Delhi, October 18: The hearing in the defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani began on Thursday. While arguing in Patiala House court, Akbar's lawyer Geeta Luthra said that the articles and tweets by Ramani were being quoted by the media in India and abroad and was hurting his reputation. Luthra also said that Ramani should prove the allegations that she was tweeting. #MeToo in India: President Ram Nath Kovind Accepts MJ Akbar’s Resignation With Immediate Effect.
"Priya Ramani has tweeted defamatory tweets against the complainant. Her second tweet was clearly defamatory and liked by 1200 people," Luthra said in court while arguing for Akbar. "Articles in international and national media quoted these defamatory tweets. Tweets are defamatory unless Ramani proves anything. Irreparable damage has been caused to Akbar’s reputation which he has built over 40 years," she added. MJ Akbar Resigns as MoS For External Affairs Amid #MeToo Allegations.
The next hearing in the case will now take place on October 31. The court will examine the statements of Akbar as well as the witnesses on October 31.
Earlier on Thursday, the Editors' Guild of India had written to Akbar asking him to withdraw the defamation case filed against Ramani.
MJ Akbar resigned from his post on Wednesday, days after he was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in the #MeToo movement. Akbar issued a statement wherein he vowed to challenge 'false allegations' against him. "Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity," Akbar said in the statement. Left Says Akbar Resignation Has Come 'too Late', Cong Dares PM to Speak Up.
Former Mint Lounge Editor Priya Ramani, who wrote about a predatory "celebrity editor" without naming anyone in a piece last year, last week publicly identified Akbar as the central character of her article. "I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn't 'do' anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator -- maybe they'll share," she said.
After Ramani, at least 20 more women have come out on social media and accused Akbar of sexual harassment.