MJ Akbar defamation case: Judgement on Feb 17
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday adjourned to February 17 the pronouncement of judgement in the criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister and veteran journalist M.J. Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani for accusing him of sexual misconduct.
“Since the arguments by the counsels were lengthy, more time will take to pronounce the judgement,” Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey said and adjourned the matter.
On February 1, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate had reserved the judgement in the case after hearing rebuttal arguments of counsel of the complainant — Advocate Geeta Luthra for M.J. Akbar and Rebecca John for Priya Ramani.
In the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, Ramani had made allegation of sexual harassment against Akbar. Pursuant to this, he filed the criminal defamation case against her and resigned as the Union Minister. Trial began in 2019 and went on for almost two years.
In 2017, Ramani wrote an article for the Vogue where she described her ordeal of being sexually harassed by a former boss during her job interview for his publication. One year later, she revealed that the person alluded to as harasser in article was M.J. Akbar.
Akbar told the court that Ramani’s allegations were fictitious and cost him his stellar reputation. Priya Ramani, on the other hand, contested these claims, pleaded truth as her defence and said that she made allegations in good faith, public interest, and for public good.
If found guilty, Ramani would be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. The judgement in the case will also set a precedent for similar cases which arose from the discourse-changing #MeToo movement.