Former Union Minister MJ Akbar, cross-examined in a Delhi court on Saturday in a defamation case filed by him against journalist Priya Ramani, said the articles and tweets by her were not meant to raise awareness on sexual harassment at the workplace, news agency ANI reported.
"It is also wrong to suggest that Ramani's disclosures in her tweets and articles were true and made in good faith for public interest and for public good," Mr Akbar told the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, ANI reported. "It is wrong to suggest that the articles and tweets of Priya Ramani were meant to raise awareness of pervasiveness of the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace," said Mr Akbar.
Ms Ramani on April 10 pleaded not guilty before the court and claimed trial after the court framed defamation charges against her.
Mr Akbar said he had no intention to target Ms Ramani by filing a defamation case against her. "It is wrong to say that present complaint I filed is false and without merit and that I have been selective in filing this complaint against Priya Ramani in order to target her," said the former Union Minister, who stepped down at the peak of the #MeToo movement that unleashed a wave of accusations against prominent public figures.
"I worked with a journalist Pallavi Gogoi in 1994 at Asian Age. I was made aware of an article written by Pallavi Gogoi in the Washington Post dated 01.11.2018. But I deny all those allegations..." Mr Akbar said in response to a question by Ms Ramani's counsel Rebecca John.
The court will hear the case next and cross-examine Mr Akbar's witnesses on July 15 and 17.
The court had granted permanent exemption to Ms Ramani from personal appearance in the hearings to follow. In February, she was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000. She was the first woman to accuse Mr Akbar of sexual harassment during the #MeToo campaign.
In the previous cross-examination, MJ Akbar firmly denied any wrongdoing. He said he does not remember meeting Ms Ramani in 1993 and other details related to her sexual misconduct allegations made last year.
The politician said that his family and friends were "profoundly hurt" and "extremely upset" after the allegations against him emerged, and it was only after hearing his version of the story that they "began to understand the nature of this assault" on his reputation.
With inputs from ANI