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MJ Akbar Aware of Other Tweets Also, But Singled Me Out for Complaint: Priya Ramani To Delhi Court

Shreya Agarwal
5 Dec 2020 2:40 PM GMT
MJ Akbar Aware of Other Tweets Also, But Singled Me Out for Complaint: Priya Ramani To Delhi Court
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Journalist Priya Ramani against whom former BJP leader MJ Akbar has filed a defamation complaint, for alleged defamatory publications against him during the 'Me Too' movement, today informed a Delhi court hearing the matter that there were other women too who had come out against Akbar at the time, but she has been singled out in the complaint. Sr. Adv. Rebecca John, appearing...

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Journalist Priya Ramani against whom former BJP leader MJ Akbar has filed a defamation complaint, for alleged defamatory publications against him during the 'Me Too' movement, today informed a Delhi court hearing the matter that there were other women too who had come out against Akbar at the time, but she has been singled out in the complaint.

Sr. Adv. Rebecca John, appearing for Ramani, referred to experiences shared by Saba Naqvi, Harinder Baweja, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma and others in response to Ramani's tweet, on which the court asked if he had made complaints against others also, to which John replied, "No, he has only picked out Ramani, even though he admits he was aware of others also."

John told the court that the whole of Priya Ramani's case had been put up before Akbar, and that she had fully discharged her obligation 'to tell the witness what her defence was'.

Referring to case documents, John said that in an article published by her in 2017 in the Vogue magazine, no-one had been named by her, however, in 2018 when she tweeted about the incident, this article was referred to/attached in the tweet.

She claimed that as opposed to what Akbar had made it look like, the whole article in Vogue was not about him. She submitted, "Only the first four paras of the article referred to Akbar, rest of the article was about male bosses in general."

John also went on to admit that even though Akbar wasn't named in the article, the first 4 paras did in fact refer to him.

Talking about the article further, John said that, the portions of the article in inverted commas were from articles written in America by American authors, which is why they were in inverted commas and that they had nothing to do with Akbar.

Relying on a FirstPost article put forth by Akbar before the court, to make out her case, she argued that it's an established principle of law that if the prosecution places a document on record, the defence can very well rely on it.

John also strongly refuted Akbar's claim of a "sterling reputation" and stated that it was admitted by him that he had shared a consensual relationship with Pallavi Gogoi 23 years back which ended on a bitter note. However, his wife, had stated that, Pallavi's flaunting the relationship publicly had in fact threatened to destroy their family - which also he had admitted.

She questioned if this was the record of a man with a "sterling reputation". Reputation being one of the three ingredients of defamation under S.499 IPC, John sought to establish that Akbar did not in the first place enjoy what he was claiming to have been destroyed by Ramani's publication.

John vehemently submitted, "Irrespective of the nature of his relationship, and I am noone to comment on it, Mr. Akbar has admitted that he was in a relationship with a woman who was 20 years his junior and his subordinate at the workplace, at the time he was married.
This is not the conduct of a man with a sterling reputation."
She said that she had established this through his own documents.

Unrelenting, John went on, "He didn't even remember that the Delhi High Court convicted him for contempt, it seems there is no onus on him to be truthful. He is a politician now, but was a journalist earlier. Where is the onus of truth?"

Thereafter referring to Ramani's statement, John read out that she was not only called to his hotel room for 'interview', he also asked her personal questions such as whether she had a boyfriend, was she married, offered her an alcoholic beverage, and asked her no job-related questions.

The hearing has been adjourned till December 10, 2020.


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