Delhi Court To Take Call On MJ Akbar's Defamation Case On January 29

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MJ Akbar said in his petition that Priya Ramani was spreading "maliciously serious allegations".


New Delhi: 

A Delhi court will decide next week if former Union Minister MJ Akbar's defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani merits a trial and whether she should be summoned as an accused. Under the law, defamation carries a sentence of two-year jail term or fine or both. In case of a negative decision on January 29, Mr Akbar can appeal in a higher court.

Ms Ramani has accused Akbar of sexual misconduct, which, she said, took place around 20 years ago. Her tweet - posted amid last year's MeToo wave in the country -- had opened the floodgates, with around a dozen women stepping forward with similar allegations against the former editor.

In a 41-page defamation suit in October, Mr Akbar alleged that her tweets and a newspaper article spoiled his reputation and goodwill built over 40 years and he had to quit his job as the junior foreign minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.

His lawyers said Mr Ramani's tweets and article were widely read and even picked up by foreign media.

"Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda," his petition read.

In their closing arguments at the court today, Mr Akbar's lawyers repeated statements made by the former editor and six witnesses, who contended that he was a thorough gentleman. Neighbours, friends and colleagues all said they had never heard a negative word about him.

Adjourning the case, the court said it would give its verdict on January 29.

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