#MeToo movement: Priya Ramani's allegations were defamatory, M.J. Akbar tells court
New Delhi : Former Union Minister M.J. Akbar on Wednesday told a Delhi court that journalist Priya Ramani's allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him were defamatory in nature.
Akbar told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal that the allegations were false and defamatory, tarnishing his reputation.
"My reputation has been tarnished in the eyes of the general public and those who are near and dear and known to me. I affirm that my complaint is correct and allegations made against me by Ramani are false and defamatory," Akbar said, citing his credentials and professional background.
He told the court that he had worked for four decades to acquire and build a stellar reputation and a good name.
Contending that his reputation had been lowered because of Ramani's "false, baseless and defamatory" accusations, Akbar said: "There was immediate damage because of the scurrilous nature of these concocted and false allegations. I was attacked in a personal capacity about fabricated non-events allegedly done two decades ago."
The court was recording Akbar's statement as a complainant witness in a criminal defamation suit filed by him against Ramani.
Ramani was the first in a long list of female journalists to have accused Akbar of sexual harassment.
A Rajya Sabha member, Akbar has denied all the charges made against him as "false, wild and baseless".
He said that it was apparent that a false narrative against him was being circulated in a motivated manner and with an agenda.
Akbar told the court that he chose to seek justice in personal capacity and therefore he resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs.
The BJP leader told the court that Ramani's defamatory tweets were picked up by various publications and social media.
Ramani's tweet carried a link to an article published in Vogue India magazine in October 2017.
"The opening sentence of the tweet explained one anomaly. When the article was published in Vogue India in 2017, it did not include my name. Priya Ramani stated as to why my name was not included earlier. She said it was because I had done nothing. This is mentioned in the tweet dated October 8 as well," Akbar said in the statement.
After concluding Akbar's statement, the court listed the matter for November 12 for recording statements of other witnesses.
Akbar has listed names of two senior woman journalists -- The Sunday Guardian's Editor Joyeeta Basu and journalist Veenu Sandal -- and four others as his witnesses to prove his defamation charges against Ramani.