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MeToo: Disclosure of sexual harassment was for public good, Priya Ramani tells court

By PTI Updated: Sep 05, 2020 5:25 pm

New Delhi, Sep. 5 (PTI): Journalist Priya Ramani told a Delhi court on Saturday that her remarks alleging sexual harassment by former Union minister MJ Akbar were “her truth” which she disclosed in “good faith” for the “public good” and, therefore, do not amount to defamation.

Ramani submitted this before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja through her lawyer during the final hearing of a private criminal defamation complaint filed by Akbar against her.

During the #MeToo movement, Ramani in 2018 accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist.

Akbar resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Ramani, told the court on Saturday that as per law it is not defamation to impute anything which is true concerning any person if it is for the public good.

 “A true imputation made in the public good is not defamation… it is not defamation to make an imputation on the character of another when it is made in good faith for the protection of his or other’s interest,” she told the court during a virtual hearing.

John further said that “Priya Ramani’s alleged defamatory tweets and the Vogue article were her truth. I am saying this is my (Ramani’s) truth… it is the truth, is in good faith, touching public good.”

The court will further hear the arguments on September 8.

Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by using adjectives such as ”media’s biggest predator” against him that harmed his reputation.

MJ Akbar has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during the #MeToo campaign against him.

Akbar had told the court that the allegations made in an article in the ”Vogue” and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed them to be false and imaginary and that “immediate damage” was caused to him due to the “false” allegations by Priya Ramani.

Ramani had earlier told the court that her “disclosure” of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar has come at “a great personal cost” and she had “nothing to gain” from it.

She had said her move would empower women to speak up and make them understand their rights at the workplace.

Several women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by MJ Akbar him while they were working as journalists under him.

He has termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

By PTI Updated: Sep 05, 2020 5:25:31 pm