- Priya Ramani appeared before Delhi's Patiala House Court for first time
- She was sued by editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar over #MeToo allegations
- The journalist has been asked to appear before court again on April 10
Journalist Priya Ramani, who was sued for defamation by editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar over her allegations of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement, was given bail by a Delhi court today. Ms Ramani appeared before the Patiala House Court for the first time after she was summoned by the court.
The journalist was given bail on a surety of Rs 10,000 and was asked to appear before the court again on April 10.
"The next date when they will frame the charges against me is April 10. After that it will be my turn to tell my story. The truth is my defence," she told reporters. She was represented in the court by senior lawyer Rebecca John who pointed to the absence of MJ Akbar in the court.
A number of senior journalists accompanied Ms Ramani to the courtroom as a show of solidarity.
MJ Akbar's lawyer said they will oppose Ms Ramani's request for exemption from appearance in court and that the politician would appear in court whenever the court wants him to. "He will be there in five minutes," lawyer Sandeep Kapur told NDTV.
Priya Ramani was the first among a number of women who accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct during his time as a media personality, forcing him to resign as the junior foreign minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet on October 17 last year. "As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar's resignation. I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court," Ms Ramani had tweeted the day he resigned.
The politician filed a defamation case against her, following which Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal summoned her. "Time to tell our side of the story," she tweeted hours after the summons.
MJ Akbar's legal team had told the court that Priya Ramani damaged his reputation by levelling "false, wild and baseless allegations".
Among those who accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment is a United States-based journalist who claims that she was assaulted at a Jaipur hotel over 23 years ago, followed by instances of "sexual, verbal and emotional" defilement. When the former Union Minister insisted that theirs was a consensual affair, she said that a relationship "based on coercion and abuse of power" cannot be couched in such terms.
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