Senior Journalist Priya Ramani testified before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal on Saturday in the criminal defamation case filed against her by BJP leader and Senior Journalist MJ Akbar.
Ms Ramani began by narrating the incident that happened at the Oberoi Hotel in 1993 when she had gone there for a job interview. She said that MJ Akbar called her to his bedroom and asked her personal questions such as whether she has a boyfriend or not. He also offered her an alcoholic drink and later started singing old Hindi songs for her. 'I felt that physical safety was in danger', she said.
Ms Ramani also mentioned that she was afraid to share the details of the incident at Oberoi Hotel with her family as she was afraid of her parents asking her to quit journalism. She eventually took the job at the Asian Age thinking that sh e'll never have to be alone in the same room with Mr Akbar.
During the course of her testimony, some objections were raised by Geeta Luthra, counsel for MJ Akbar, about certain articles which had mentioned instances of sexual harassment at workplace, to be exhibited by the defence counsel Rebecca Mammen John. However, the same were overruled by the judge who allowed those articles to be exhibited for verification purposes.
Ms Ramani also mentioned the tweets posted by other women such as Ghazala Wahab, Shunali Khullar Shroff and Prerna Singh Bindra, all of which talked about their experiences of sexual harassment from MJ Akbar. She also highlighted that sexual harassment can be both physical and verbal. While she was not physically assaulted by Mr Akbar, she did face sexual harassment in the verbal form. She said, 'My tweet was to highlight the fact that we normalise sexual misconduct, unless it results in physical assault, we don't take it seriously'.
She also clarified her using the word 'Predator' for Mr Akbar. She called him a predator because he outweighed her in power, influence and age. She also highlighted that she was inspired by Ghazala's tweets for lifting the veil of anonymity from that Vogue article that she had written about sexual harassment at workplace.
Ms Ramani also mentioned that after her tweet, many women and journalists came in her support and also promised to testify for her.
The examination in chief of Priya Ramani will continue on September 9