December 07, 2018:
On Friday, three witnesses recorded their statements in the case of ‘criminal defamation’ complaint filed by former Union minister MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani, the first woman to accuse him of sexual harassment, in Delhi Patiala House district court.
Court has fixed Jan 11 as the next date for recording of statements of rest of the witnesses in the case against Ramani.
Akbar stepped down as the minister of state for external affairs in October after Ramani and a number of other women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour at various stages of his journalistic career.
The 67-year-old former editor responded by suing Ramani, who sparked off the barrage of allegations, for criminal defamation in a Delhi court.
Dismissing all the allegations, the former editor of The Telegraph, Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age newspapers, had said that these were “malicious, fabricated & salacious” intended to harm his reputation.
Ramani has said she is “ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence”.
Akbar has also been accused of rape by Pallavi Gogoi, the chief business editor of National Public Radio (NPR), a Washington-based American media organisation.
She detailed the “most painful memories” of her life in an article in The Washington Post, accusing Akbar, the editor-in-chief of the Asian Age newspaper at that time, of using his position to prey on her 23 years ago.
Joyeeta Basu, the editor of Sunday Guardian, was one of the first witnesses to testify in the case on November 12. She had said Ramani posted all her tweets “intentionally with a purpose to harm” Akbar’s “reputation & goodwill”.
She said she has worked with Akbar for 20 years and had not heard anything untoward from the staff of the organisation where they worked together. He was a public figure who was held in high esteem, she said.
There are six witnesses, including Basu, from Akbar’s side.