Friends, Colleagues Called, Asked About Allegations: MJ Akbar's Petition

Union Minister MJ Akbar has been accused by journalist Priya Ramani of sexual harassment in charges linked to the #MeToo movement.

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Friends, Colleagues Called, Asked About Allegations: MJ Akbar's Petition

MJ Akbar filed the defamation case against Priya Ramani, the first woman to name him.


New Delhi: 

Union Minister MJ Akbar, accused of sex harassment by a dozen women in the #MeToo movement, has said in his defamation petition against Priya Ramani that the journalist had the "ulterior" motive of "maligning his reputation and political standing."

Mr Akbar filed the defamation case against Ms Ramani, the first woman to name him, in a Delhi court on Monday.

The editor-turned-politician accuses Ms Ramani of "willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming" him. His petition said an article by Ms Ramani first published in Vogue magazine and her subsequent tweets naming him are based on "wholly and completely false, frivolous, and unjustifiable and scandalous grounds."

Mr Akbar, who helmed newspapers such as The Telegraph and The Asian Age, was named by Ms Ramani in a tweet on October 8. She had said MJ Akbar was the man she had referred to in an incident she had shared in the article a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US opened the floodgates of #MeToo allegations.

In doing so, the journalist harmed the "goodwill and reputation" within the "political fraternity, media, friends, family, colleagues and in society at large," said the petition.

The junior foreign minister has alleged that Ms Ramani had the "ulterior motive of maligning" his "reputation and political standing" in "furtherance of her own vested interests."

Mr Akbar pointed out that Ms Ramani herself admitted he had not done "anything to her." "It is pertinent to mention that the conduct of the accused person, of not taking any action before any authority" that "clearly belies the sanctity of the article and allegations made" by her.

The petition then says that that Ms Ramani had resorted to a series of "maliciously fabricated allegations," which she is "diabolically and viciously spreading using media."

These statements by Ms Ramani, says the petition, "not only damaged" his "goodwill and reputation" in "social circles and on the political stage," which was "established after years of toil and hard work", but also "affected his personal reputation in the community, friends, family and colleagues." The minister says he received a number of phone calls from "his friends and colleagues, both from the media as well as the political sphere," who inquired about the "allegations put forth in the false and defamatory statements," that caused him "irreparable loss to his reputation."

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