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As the MJ Akbar criminal defamation case resumed in the Patiala Court on Monday, a witness for the former minister testified that he was a “perfect professional, a tough taskmaster and brilliant teacher”.

Joyeeta Basu, the editor of Sunday Guardian newspaper owned by Akbar who claimed to have worked with him for 20 years said journalist Priya Ramani posted all her tweets “intentionally with a purpose to harm Akbar’s “reputation and goodwill”. Basu was one of the first witnesses to testify in the case of criminal defamation complaint filed by Akbar against Ramani, the first woman to accuse him of sexual harassment, with the chief metropolitan magistrate in the Patiala House court.

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.  Basu said in her testimony that she was “shocked, disappointed, embarrassed” after she read the tweet by Ramani on October 8, 2018, and looked at the link of her article in Vogue magazine. “In spite of my experience with him, his reputation, his image took a beating in my eyes on reading the tweet/article,” Basu said.

“It was aggravated during my interaction with friends and colleagues. Whoever read and heard about the widely publicised tweet/article and asked me whether he was really like that,” she said.

Those people questioned his character and said that Akbar’s image had taken a severe beating in their eyes, she said, and his reputation had been permanently damaged.

“I may have overcome my doubt but the number of questions raised by people I know personally that his reputation has been hurt and damaged irrevocably,” Basu said.

The court summoned another witness Habibur Rehman to testify for the next date of hearing on December 7. There are seven witnesses, including Basu and Rehman.

—India Legal Bureau


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