The Courtroom battle in the criminal defamation case filed by complainant, Former Union Minister Mr. M.J. Akbar against journalist Ms. Priya Ramani continued today before a Delhi Court judge, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Ravindra Kumar Pandey. Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra continued her rebuttal arguments against the accused, Ms. Ramani in the matter. The case is currently on the final stages and will conclude once Adv. Geeta Luthra concludes her final arguments.
The next date of hearing in the matter is 12.01.2021
PROCEEDINGS DATED 07.01.2021
The main thrust of Senior Adv. Geetha Luthra's argument in the Court today was how the reputation of Mr. MJ Akbar was blemished by the statements made by Ms. Priya Ramani. It was argued that Mr. Akbar had the opportunity of holding prestigious positions like being a member of Rajya Sabha and then joining the Ministry of External Affairs. However, according to Ms. Luthra, the accused in their submissions had not questioned the aspect of complainant's reputation.
In doing so, Senior Adv. Geeta Luthra began by referring to Mr. MJ Akbar's testimony to submit that it was because of Ms. Priya Ramani's statements and false allegations that the complainant's reputation was deeply hampered.
"The common thread of the witnesses of complainant is the fact that the complainant has a reputation which was unblemished till the accused made her averments." She argued.
According to the complainant, there was no doubt casted by the accused counsels to rebut the fact that Mr. MJ Akbar had an impeccable reputation. Ms. Luthra also argued that the fact that Mr. Akbar had been a member of the Rajya Sabha and a former Union Minister was never questioned by the accused in the beginning. However, it was only during the later stages of the arguments that Ms. Rebecca John, counsel appearing on behalf of Ms. Priya Ramani had questioned his reputation.
"Later in arguments to try and raise a doubt with regards to Mr. Akbar having or not having a reputation is neither here nor there. We have to see what is the issue before the court, which in the present case, is that Mr. Akbar's reputation has been blemished by the accused." Senior Adv. Geeta Luthra said.
Ms. Geeta Luthra then began referring to the details of the articles published on various websites including Washington Post and Live Mint wherein the allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Akbar were revealed on a public platform for the first time. Ms. Luthra submitted that the genesis of the allegations of Mr. Akbar against Ms. Priya Ramani as these very articles based on which the complaint of defamation was filed.
She went ahead to argue on one of the statements made by Ms. Priya Ramani in one such articles wherein she said "women have tried due process in India but have failed. I have no faith in due process." To this, Ms. Geeta Luthra argued:
"Due process was available to women in India for very long. This is disrespecting India's legal system. You have come 30 years later without having proof of your averments and to say I have no faith in due process is disrespectful. How can anyone say this? This shows about India's legal system. You don't want to do any due process but want to harm a person's reputation."
Ms. Luthra went ahead to refer to another article wherein it was mentioned that "It was Ramani's tweet that triggered sexual harassment charges against Mr. MJ Akbar". To this, Senior Adv. Geeta Luthra argued that "This is why, because she is the one who attacked me and attacked my reputation, a complaint was filed against her. I am within my rights to do so."
Followed by the argument, she submitted before the Court that accused Priya Ramani;s low confidence in the due process is not something which Mr. MJ Akbar believes in. in fact, Ms. Ramani did not take her legal recourse of due process and in turn choose to go to public platform.
"You talk about due course not being available to women in India. But did you exercise due process yourself?" Ms. Luthra submitted.
Furthermore, the arguments concluded by Ms. Luthra submitting that Mr. Akbar had an impeccable reputation in the public life wherein not even a single allegation was made against him either by his colleagues or otherwise.
"A reputation is a day by day, minute by minute, brick by brick built structure. It takes one second to destroy it. It takes 50 years to build it. No one has casted a single blemish. Thousands of employees have been working with me every year, even more than that. There was not a whisper for over 50 years. And then it can without any due process because you don't believe in due process. Just say something after 30 years, this is not tenable." She argued.
The matter is scheduled to be heard on 12th January 2021.