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‘Offended by predator charge’: MJ Akbar tells court in MeToo case

MJ Akbar recently resigned as a minister after being accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct .

india Updated: Oct 31, 2018 15:06 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
MJ akbar,sexual harrasment,minister of state for exterrnal affairs
Former minister MJ Akbar was in Patiala House court on Wednesday for a hearing in the sexual harassment case filed against him.(Vipin Kumar/HT file photo)

Former Union minister MJ Akbar on Wednesday told a Delhi court that he filed a criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani for referring to him as “predator” through a series of tweets that she published over allegations of sexual harassment against him as part of the MeToo movement.

“I’ve filed criminal defamation complaint against Priya Ramani for a series of tweets that she published,” the BJP leader said in Delhi’s Patiala House court as the hearing began in the case.

“The defamatory/offending portion, in particular, apart from the rest of the article is when she (journalist Priya Ramani) referred to me a ‘predator’ and an expert on ‘so-and-so’. The tweets have caused defamation to my reputation,” he said referring to a tweet linked to an article in Vogue magazine.

“The opening line of this tweet showed one anomaly. When the article was first published, it did not include my name. When Ms Ramani was asked, my name was not included and she said it was because I had done nothing. This is mentioned in the tweet as well,” he said.

Akbar said he had worked for over four decades to build a stellar reputation which had suffered immediate damage “because of the scurrilous nature of the false and concocted allegations”.

He said his reputation has been tarnished in the eyes of the state, the government, right thinking members of the public, my friends, colleagues, my peers and my professional and political fraternity, and those who are near and dear ones.

“I can name the several persons who have worked with me, including Joyeeta Basu, Veenu Sandal, Sayyed among others in whose eyes my reputation has been lowered,” he said.

“I was attacked in my personal capacity about the alleged and fabricated non events. I chose to seek justice in my personal capacity without the appurtenance of office which is why I offered my resignation as a minister,” he told the court.

Akbar had stepped down as the minister of state for external affairs after Ramani and a number of other women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour at various stages of his journalistic career.

Dismissing the allegations, the editor-turned-politician had said that these were “malicious, fabricated and salacious” intended to harm his reputation.

Ramani has said she is “ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence.”

The court has fixed November 12 as the next date for hearing the case. Witnesses will record their statements at the next hearing.

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 12:43 IST