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Editor turned minister MJ Akbar’s defamation case against Priya Ramani, one among the several women journalists who have accused him of sexual harassment is to be taken up at the Patiala House Court today.

Akbar resigned yesterday as junior foreign minister saying “Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity”. Akbar claimed that the false and defamatory statements that were widely published in the media had caused irreparable loss to his reputation.

In his complaint, Akbar has stated that Ramani “resorted to a series of maliciously fabricated allegations, which she is diabolically and viciously spreading using media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the Complainant is being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfillment of an agenda”.

“The scandalous allegations leveled by the accused against the Complainant herein, by their very tone and tenor, are ex facie defamatory and have not only damaged the goodwill and reputation of the Complainant, in his social circles and on the political stage, established after years of toil and hard work, but have also affected the personal reputation of the Complainant in the community, friends, family and colleagues, thereby causing him irreparable loss and tremendous distress,” the complaint added.

Meanwhile, responding to Akbar’s statement, Ramani said the central minister is trying to “silence” the voices “through intimidation and harassment”.

“I am deeply disappointed that a Union Minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear,” Ramani said in a statement that she shared on the social media.

She added that she would fight allegations of defamation as “truth and absolute truth is my only defence”. MJ Akbar has previously held various senior positions in multiple media organisations.

Many women journalists who worked under him have accused Akbar of inviting them for meetings to his hotel rooms, or cornering them in his office cabins and getting physical with them despite their protestations.

—India Legal Bureau

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