Priya Ramani acquitted in MJ Akbar defamation case
A Delhi court on Wednesday acquitted former journalist Priya Ramani in former Union minister MJ Akbar's defamation case against her for her allegations of sexual harassment and said a woman has right to voice her grievance even after several years.
The verdict, which was earlier expected to be pronounced at 2pm, was delayed after the judge said his judgement needed corrections.
Watch | MJ Akbar case: Court acquits Priya Ramani, quotes from Mahabharata & Ramayana
Referring to ancient epics 'Mahabharata' and 'Ramayana' in its judgement, the court said they were written to show the importance of dignity of a woman and it was shameful that such incidents were still happening in the country.
"Most women do not talk about the sexual harassment due to stigma that surrounds it. Sometimes even the victim does not understand as to what is happening. Despite going through extreme cruelty, the they chose to stay quiet," the court said.
The court accepted the contention that Akbar was not a man of stellar and impeccable reputation and pointed out that right of reputation can't be weighed over the right of the life of a woman.
It regretted the absence of laws to protect survivors of sexual harassment when the incident had happened. "Prior to the issuance of the Vishaka guidelines by the Supreme Court, they (survivors) did not have the option to lodge the complaint of sexual harassment due to social stigma,” the court ruled.
In 2018, Ramani had made allegation of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of #Metoo movement. According to the former journalist, in December 1993, Akbar sexually harassed her when she was called to a Mumbai hotel for a job interview.
The allegations against Akbar had forced him to resign from the Union Cabinet on October 17, 2018. Before resigning, he had filed a complaint against Ramani on October 15 for allegedly defaming him.
Senior advocate Rebecca John was appearing for Ramani while Geeta Luthra was the for the former Union minister.