A Delhi court was supposed to hear closing arguments in the MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani defamation case on Friday, 24 January.
However, both the parties were informed on Friday morning that the Judge was on leave. The case will now be heard on 7 February.
Senior journalist Priya Ramani is fighting a criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja in the Rouse Avenue trial court.
MJ Akbar was accused by several women of sexual harassment, assault, and even rape (by one woman), in the wake of the #MeToo movement in October 2018.
He, in turn, filed a defamation case against Priya Ramani, who had revealed in a tweet at the time that the beginning of an article she’d written the previous year was her #MeToo story about Akbar.
In the previous hearing, Akbar’s lawyer cross-examined Ghazala Wahab who had earlier testified in court against Akbar.
His lawyer suggested Wahab's assertions in her statement were false, that she was aware of the provision for sexual harassment and that no such incident ever happened to her, as Wahab denied his suggestions.
Wahab had earlier testified that Akbar had forcibly tried to kiss her while she was a young journalist at The Asian Age newspaper.
“Sometime in August 1997, in the afternoon, Akbar called me to his room. As I went in, he asked me to shut the door. Then he asked me to look up a word in the dictionary which was placed on a low three-legged stool across his desk. It was placed so low that one had to bend down. When I bent down, he came from behind and grabbed my waist. He ran his hands from my breasts to my hips. I tried to push his hands away but they were firmly planted on my waist. He then pushed his thumb on my breast. Not only was the door shut, even his back was towards the door.”Ghazala Wahab’s testimony
Wahab further alleged that the very next day, Akbar messaged her on the intranet and asked her to come in again.
“The minute I entered, he immediately held me by my shoulder and forcefully tried to kiss me. I was speechless with fear but continued to push against him. He finally released me, I ran out howling.”Ghazala Wahab’s testimony
The judge also asked the media to refrain from ‘making personal comments on the counsels’.
The Judge requested the media to refrain from making ‘personal remarks’ about the lawyers appearing in the case. A reporter asked the judge as to what qualifies as ‘personal remarks’ so she can be informed for the next hearing. She also asked if laughing during an ongoing deposition doesn’t qualify as violating the court’s decorum. The court didn’t reply to that query.