"Journalist Priya Ramani's Allegations Defamatory, Mala Fide": MJ Akbar

Journalist Priya Ramani was the first in a long list of women journalists to accuse MJ Akbar, a journalist-turned-politician, of sexual harassment.

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'Journalist Priya Ramani's Allegations Defamatory, Mala Fide': MJ Akbar

Priya Ramani's tweet had adversely affected my reputation, said MJ Akbar in court.


New Delhi: 

In a heated exchange between lawyers of both parties, former Union Minister MJ Akbar recorded his statement in a Delhi court on Saturday saying the allegations levelled by journalist Priya Ramani against him were "defamatory and mala fide".

The court was hearing the defamation case against Ms Ramani filed by the former Minister of State for External Affairs.

Ms Ramani was the first in a long list of women journalists to accuse MJ Akbar, a journalist-turned-politician, of sexual harassment.

On Saturday, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal began examining MJ Akbar's statement in the case.

During his examination by his counsel Geeta Luthra, the politician said that allegations levelled by Priya Ramani were highly offensive, mala fide, false and fabricated.

"Ramani's tweet had adversely affected my reputation," MJ Akbar told the court.

The two-hour-long hearing saw several interruptions as Ms Luthra raised objections on various questions asked by Ms Ramani's counsel Rebecca John while cross-examining MJ Akbar.

However, the court allowed Rebecca John to proceed, saying it was a criminal defamation case and "she has the liberty to defend herself".

When advocate Rebecca John asked MJ Akbar whether he asked Ms Ramani to meet him at The Oberoi hotel in Mumbai's Nariman Point when she had gone for an interview at The Asian Age newspapers' office there in December 1993, he replied that he could not recollect the incident.

Ms Ramani's counsel also asked MJ Akbar questions related to his political connections and raised queries over his ideology, saying that he had changed it several times in the course of his political career.

MJ Akbar won the elections from Bihar's Kishanganj constituency in 1989 as a Congress candidate and lost the polls from the same seat in 1991.

In response, he said it was wrong to suggest that this behaviour reflects his "political opportunism".

Advocate Rebecca John also asked about the contempt notice issued against MJ Akbar by the Delhi High Court in 2003 for reporting false report of court proceedings, to which he replied that he did not remember.

MJ Akbar's counsel said that Rebecca John's questions were irrelevant and raised objections against them.

As the examination of MJ Akbar remained incomplete, the court listed the matter for the further hearing on May 20.



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