Priya Ramani was upset after meeting MJ Akbar, witness testifies
Former National Geographic Traveller editor Niloufer Venkatraman told a Delhi court on Friday that she had been with journalist Priya Ramani moments before former union minister MJ Akbar had allegedly sexually misbehaved with Ramani, in December 1993.
Ramani, then a recent graduate of journalism, had visited Akbar for an interview in Asian Age, a newspaper of which he was editor at the time.
“A few minutes before 7pm, I walked her to the entrance of Oberoi Hotel and she went in and I left to go home, Much later, well after dinner time, Priya called me on my landline. She sounded upset and distraught. I asked her why she sounded so upset. She told me that the interview hadn’t gone as we had expected,” Venkatraman told the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.
Akbar filed a criminal defamation suit against Ramani last year, after she accused him of alleged misconduct during the job interview that evening, while staying at the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai.
Akbar denied the charges, and resigned from his position as minister of state for external affairs after the allegations were made by Ramani on Twitter.
“Since there was no meeting, therefore it is wrong to suggest that I did not ask Priya Ramani about her writing skills, her knowledge of current affairs, or her ability to enter the world of journalism,” he told the court in May.
On October 24, Ramani’s cross-examination by Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra continued, in which Luthra asked Ramani why she had “deleted” her twitter account to tamper with evidence. Ramani replied that she had de-activated her account to “take a break from twitter and focus on her family and personal life”, and it could be re-activated at any time.
Ramani’s lawyer Rebecca John countered that Ramani’s twitter account was not evidence, the tweets with allegations were.
Luthra also questioned Ramani over her tweets in 2010 and 2011, where she had purportedly shared articles written by Akbar. The cross-examination of both Ramani and Venkatraman will continue on November 6.