Amid heated courtroom drama that lasted for almost two hours, former Union Minister MJ Akbar today recorded his statement in a defamation case filed by him against journalist Priya Ramani over her allegations of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement.
Mr Akbar, who appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, was also cross examined by Priya Ramani's counsel on details regarding Ms Ramani joining The Asian Age, among others, news agency PTI reported. The journalist-turned-politician, however, responded to most of the questions as "I do not remember".
The former minister has maintained that the allegations made by Ms Ramani were "malafide" and "defamatory".
Mr Akbar's council repeatedly disrupting proceedings and objected to many questions raised by Ms Ramani's counsel. The cross examination has been deferred and will continue on May 20. It's not just Priya story but story of countless women. We are looking to make it clear that women no longer accept sexual harassment at the work place. I hope all of this will come out in the testimony of the various witnesses that we will produce. It is my hope that at the end of it judge will acquit her," said Rebecca John, who is representing Ms Ramani in the case.
MJ Akbar resigned as junior foreign minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet on October 17 last year after he was accused of sexual harassment by Priya Ramani.
"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, one of the first woman to accuse Mr Akbar, had tweeted the day he resigned.
Days later, he filed a defamation case claiming that Priya Ramani damaged his reputation by levelling "false, wild and baseless allegations".
A US-based journalist has also levelled sexual harassment allegations against Mr Akbar, who, she claimed assaulted her 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.
With inputs from PTI