File photo of journalist Priya Ramani, (AP Photo)
File photo of journalist Priya Ramani, (AP Photo)

Priya Ramani acquitted in MJ Akbar defamation case: What court said

The court underscored that most women do not speak about harassment for the social stigma attached to it
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 11:07 AM IST

Journalist Priya Ramani was acquitted by a Delhi court this afternoon over a defamation case filed by former Union minister MJ Akbar, whom she accused of sexual misconduct in 2018, at a time when the #MeToo campaign was sweeping across the globe.

The court underscored that most women do not speak about harassment for the social stigma attached to it. “Right of the reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of a woman’s reputation guaranteed under Article 21,” the court said.

Ramani, in a 2017 Vogue India article, detailed her experiences with a former boss, whom she called a “sexual predator”. Ramani, however, did not name MJ Akbar in the article. A year later, in 2018, Ramani named MJ Akbar in a tweet. The article led to more women coming out with their stories, alleging harassment at the hands of Akbar. Akbar, who was a junior minister in the first Modi government, filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani. The minister resigned shortly thereafter.

The court’s top five observations:

1) Two epics have been written to show the importance of dignity of a woman

2) Sometimes even the victim does not understand as to what is happening. Despite going through extreme cruelty, the victim chooses to stay quiet.

3) The court accepts the fact that complaint is not lodged due to the social stigma. The court said most women do not talk about the sexual harassment to prevent her dignity as she also has a family and has to go through the trauma.

4) The court said that the victim has a right to put her grievance even after years and decades.

5) The right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right to dignity; right of reputation can't be weighed over the right of the life of a woman.

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