The former minister in his petition said journalsit Priya Ramani “intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious” allegations to harm the editor-turned-politician’s reputation.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A Delhi court on Thursday agreed to hear the defamation case filed by former Union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani, who had accused him of sexual harassment.
The Patiala House Court will examine statements of MJ Akbar and other witnesses on October 31.
Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra told court that the tweets by Ramani were on the face defamatory. She urged the court to take cognisance of the case and summon the accused.
“Articles in international and national media quoted these defamatory tweets. Tweets are defamatory unless Ramani proves anything,” Luthra said.
“Irreparable damage has been caused to Akbar’s reputation which he has built over 40 years,” ANI quoted Luthra as saying .
The former minister in his petition had said Ramani “intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious” allegations to harm the editor-turned-politician’s 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.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Editors Guild of India urged Akbar to withdraw the case. “We hope that Mr Akbar will also display the grace to withdraw the criminal defamation case he has filed against one of these complainants. While Mr Akbar is entitled to all legal instruments available to a citizen to seek vindication, it would be paradoxical for a veteran editor to employ the instrument of criminal defamation,” the Guild said.
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.
The BJP MP dismissed the allegations as “false and fabricated” and “malicious” and said he will be “taking appropriate legal action” and said these have “caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill”.
A group of current and former journalists employed by The Asian Age, a newspaper that was once edited by Akbar issued a statement on Tuesday, urging the Patiala House court to accept their testimonies in the case.