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Court acquits Priya Ramani in defamation case filed by MJ Akbar

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In a major relief for journalist Priya Ramani, a court in Delhi on Wednesday acquitted her in connection with a defamation suit filed against her by former Union minister MJ Akbar.

When the #metoo campaign was at its peak, Ramani had alleged MJ Akbar of sexually harassing her in 1994. This led to Akbar filing a defamation case against the journalist.

What did the court say?

She was acquitted as the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey dismissed the defamation complaint filed by Akbar saying that no charges were proved against her.

The court remarked, “It is time for the society to understand that sometimes a victim may not speak up for years due to mental trauma. The woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sexual abuse.” It also held that Ramani has the right to put out her views on any platform of her choice as per Article 21.

Priya Ramani’s reaction

The journalist, while reacting to the court verdict, said, “It feels amazing, it truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment at workplace.”

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She further added that through this verdict the issue of sexual harassment has finally gotten the attention it deserves.

“It was me, the victim, who was made to stand in court as an accused. I thank everyone who stood by me especially my witnesses Ghazala Wahab and Niloufer Venkatraman who came to the court and testified on my behalf.”

“I thank the court for the verdict and I thank my lawyer Rebecca John and the amazing team who believed in me and the wider cause. They put their heart and soul in the case,” Ramani said.

MJ Akbar filed case in 2018

Akbar had filed the case against Ramani in October 2018 citing an article she had written for The Vogue the previous year and a subsequent tweet of October 2018 in which she had alleged that the former editor of Asian Age newspaper had sexually harassed her during a job interview in 1994.

Notably, under pressure over the sexual harassment charge, MJ Akbar had to tender his resignation as a Union minister on October 17, 2018.

 

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