#MeToo: Delhi HC's Notice to Ramani on MJ Akbar's Appeal; Next Hearing in Jan
The Delhi High Court issued a notice and listed the matter for hearing on 13 January 2022.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday, 11 August, issued a notice to journalist Priya Ramani on an appeal filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar, challenging the acquittal in the defamation case, reported LiveLaw.
After hearing the submissions made by Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar and Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra appearing for Akbar, Justice Mukta Gupta sought a response from Ramani, ordering, "Issue notice to the respondents via speed post and other means. The matter will be heard on 13 January."
Nothing Is Decided Yet: Akbar's Lawyer
Luthra submitted that Ramani's argument was absurd and implied disbelief in the allegations made by her, reported Bar and Bench.
"The Court didn't even go into the main three issues and wrongly noted on CW 1/11. It also called a person by unpalatable names, without any due care or cation. Moreover, many parts of the admissibility were not even decided," said Luthra.
Luthra added that the trial court handed out the verdict without considering any objections raised during the trial.
“Nothing is decided. The court went on to decide about Ram and Ravan. Objections are not decided or looked into,” she said.
Nayar, who is also representing Akbar, said that the present case is about criminal defamation and there was no reason to go into aspects of sexual harassment.
He argued, "My case was under Section 499 IPC and the trial court found that the contents were defamatory. So the minute such a finding is returned, nothing further has to be adjudicated. These observations pertaining to sexual harassment are unnecessary."
To this, the court told Nayar that determining whether the contents are defamatory or not is only the first step in prosecution, reported LiveLaw.
"That's first step. If it is found not defamatory, there's no need to go further. But if it's found that the contents are defamatory, then 2nd step is to determine whether the defence taken by her was right," the court said.
Priya Ramani Aquitted of Defamation Charge
Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct in 2018. In response, a defamation suit was filed by Akbar against Ramani on 15 October 2018. Ramani pleaded not guilty and Akbar had to step down as the Union minister.
A trial court acquitted Ramani on 17 February. Akbar moved the Delhi High Court against Ramani's acquittal on 25 March.
The trial court acquitted Ramani on the grounds that a woman has the right to put grievances before any platform of her choice even after decades.
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