New Delhi: A Delhi court today took cognisance of former union minister MJ Akbar's criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani and fixed it for recording his statement on October 31.
The court was hearing the criminal defamation case filed by Akbar against Ramani who accused him of sexual harassment amid #MeToo movement in India.
During the hearing, senior advocate Geeta Luthra, who represented Akbar in the court, referred to tweets of Priya Ramani and said the journalist's tweets caused irreparable loss to MJ Akbar's reputation built over 40 years.
"Articles in international and national media quoted these defamatory tweets. Tweets are defamatory unless Ramani proves anything," Luthra told the court adding "Priya Ramani has tweeted defamatory tweets against complainant. Her second tweet was clearly defamatory and liked by 1200 people. "
She further said that Akbar has resigned due to these allegations and this shows the damage caused to his reputation.
Referring to editor-turned-politician’s reputation as a journalist, Akbar’s lawyer asked the court to take cognisance of his complaint.
Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal considered the submissions of Luthra and fixed the matter for recording Akbar's statement on October 31. The former union minister was not present in the court today.
The court also said that after being satisfied it may issue a notice to Ramani for appearing and facing the trial in the defamation complaint.
Ahead of the court hearing, the Editors Guild of India came out in support and lauded the 20 women journalists who have named Akbar in the growing #MeToo movement, accusing him of sexual harassment.
The top body of editors representing the media industry also expressed its concern over Akbar's defamation case against one of the journalists, Priya Ramani, and said he should withdraw the case.
MJ Akbar, who resigned from his post of Minister of State for External Affairs on Wednesday, has accused Ramani of "intentionally making fabricated allegations" to harm his reputation.
“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from my office and challenge false accusation levied against me, also in a personal capacity,” Akbar said in his statement while resigning.
Akbar, former editor of newspapers like The Telegraph and The Asian Age was named by Ramani in a tweet on October 8 where she said MJ Akbar was the man she had written about in a magazine article a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US set off an avalanche of #MeToo allegations.
After Ramani named him, more women posted stories against Akbar.
Following Akbar’s resignation Ramani said, "As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar's resignation. I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court."
Twenty journalists had come out in her support on Tuesday evening, saying she was not alone and that they would testify in court against Akbar.
The #MeToo movement, which attempts to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, gained momentum in India last month after former actor Tanushree Dutta accused her co-star Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of a film in 2008....