Two witnesses, appearing in support of the criminal defamation case filed by former Union minister M J Akbar, told a Delhi court on Wednesday, 17 July, that nobody ever mentioned anything resembling the allegations levelled by scribe Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo campaign.
Tapan Chaki, a corporate communications consultant based in Kolkata, and Sunil Gujral, a businessman and Akbar's neighbour and family friend in Kolkata, deposed before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.
"There was never any occasion where anybody even mentioned anything remotely resembling such allegations,” said Chaki.
"The tweets and publications by Priya Ramani have caused enormous damage to his reputation," he added.
Gujral told the court that he had never heard anything negative about Akbar and that his reputation in society was impeccable.
The court has posted the matter for further proceedings on 2 August.
Akbar, who had resigned as a minister on 17 October 2018 following the allegations leveled during the campaign, had told the court that, "Ramani's tweets used language that was deeply offensive, maligning, in bad faith, and a web of fabrication spun out of the lies."
Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after his name cropped up on social media as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India.
Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. He has denied the accusations.
Akbar had earlier told the court that the allegations made in the Vogue article and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed them to be false and imaginary.
He had told the court in his statement that an "immediate damage" has been caused to him due to the scurrilous, concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct.
Multiple women have come out with accounts of being allegedly sexual harassed by him while he was working as a journalist.
Akbar has termed the allegations "false, fabricated and deeply distressing" and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.
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