5 Big Points From Delhi Court Verdict Acquitting Priya Ramani

Priya Ramani had accused MJ Akbar, a former Union Minister and editor, of sexual misconduct amid the #MeToo movement of 2018

5 Big Points From Delhi Court Verdict Acquitting Priya Ramani

In 2017 Vogue India published an article in which Ms Ramani called out a "former boss" (File)

New Delhi: Journalist Priya Ramani was acquitted by a Delhi court Wednesday afternoon over a defamation case filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar, whom she had accused of sexual misconduct in 2018. A year earlier Vogue India published an article by Ms Ramani, in which she described an incident with a "former boss" and a "sexual predator". In October 2018, Ms Ramani named MJ Akbar - then a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government - in a tweet. A week later MJ Akbar filed the criminal defamation case and resigned as minister two days later. The trial began in January 2019, and today's verdict was read out by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey.

Here are five big observations from today's judgment:

  1. Women cannot be punished for raising their voice against sexual abuse... they cannot be punished on the pretext of criminal complaint of defamation. Right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of right of life and dignity for women, as guaranteed in the Constitution under Article 21, and right of equality before law and equal protection of law, as guaranteed under Article 14.

  2. Priya Ramani's disclosure was in the interest of anti-sexual harassment at workplace. The woman has a right to air her grievance on any platform of her choice... even after decades. It cannot be ignored that, most times, sexual harassment is committed behind closed doors. Most women can't speak up due to stigma and attack on their characters. Victims of sexual abuse (may) not speak a word for many years because she (may) have no idea she is a victim of abuse.. may (also) keep believing she is at fault.

  3. Society must understand the impact of sexual abuse and harassment on its victims. Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self-confidence. This attack by the victim on the character of the accused is self-defence after mental trauma suffered regarding shame over crime against her.

  4. The time has come for society to understand sexual abuse and harassment, and its implication on victims. Society should understand an abusive person (can be) like any other person... he too has family and friends. He can also be a well-respected person in society.

  5. Indian women are capable... (we must) pave the way for them to excel. They require only freedom and equality. A 'glass ceiling' will not prevent Indian women... will not be a road block for their advancement, if equal opportunity and social protection is given to them.