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Former Union minister MJ Akbar had filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani over allegations of sexual harassment

The Patiala House Court in Delhi will, on January 29, pronounce its order on whether it would summon journalist Priya Ramani to record her testimony in the defamation suit filed against her by former Union minister MJ Akbar.

The defamation case was filed against Ramani in October last year after she listed various instances of facing alleged sexual harassment by Akbar back in early 1990s when the journalist-turned-politician was the editor of a newspaper that she worked with. Ramani’s claims had triggered an outpouring of similar allegations, and even those of rape by at least 30 other women journalists who had worked with Akbar in various newspapers through the 1990s.

The allegations, made when India witnessed a surge in women coming out to publicly narrate their individual battles against sexual harassment and molestation as part of the global #MeToo campaign (the campaign has seen women celebrities and commoners alike speaking out against alleged sexual predators) had forced Akbar to quit as India’s minister of state for external affairs.

The former Union minister had filed a defamation case against Ramani and claimed that all her allegations were baseless and were driven by an anti-BJP political agenda.

Since the proceedings in Akbar’s case began, the former celebrated editor and author of many bestsellers has produced nearly a dozen ‘character witnesses’ in the Patiala House Court to buttress his claims against Ramani.

The court, on Tuesday (January 22), reserved its order on whether or not it would now summon Ramani to tell her side of the story. The order will be passed on January 29.

—India Legal Bureau

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