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Akbar Moves Delhi HC Against Ramani’s Acquittal, Hearing Adjourned

The case has been listed before Justice Mukta Gupta, who is slated to hear it on Thursday, 25 March.

Updated
Gender
2 min read
MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani Defamation Case
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Former Union Minister MJ Akbar has moved the Delhi High Court challenging a trial court’s decision to acquit journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case he had brought against her in 2018.

The case was listed before Justice Mukta Gupta, on Thursday, 25 March. However, the hearing was adjourned as the court of Justice Gupta did not assemble.

A Delhi trial court had on 17 February, acquitted Ramani in the said case, which Akbar had filed over the sexual harassment allegations levelled against him by her during the #MeToo movement.

The Rouse Avenue Court had held the content of Ramani’s article for Vogue magazine, that referred to Akbar, as defamatory and rejected her claims that only a few paragraphs referred to the latter.

However, the court also took into consideration the systematic abuse at workplaces, and said that “women can’t be punished for raising instances of sexual abuse by complaints claiming defamation.”

WHAT DID THE ORDER SAY?

Pronouncing the verdict, Judge Ravindra Kumar Pandey had said that “the Indian Constitution allows a woman to put forward her grievance before any forum, and at any time, even after decades.”

Giving importance to dignity over reputation, the order read:

“The right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of life and dignity of woman as guaranteed in Indian Constitution under article 21 and right of equality before law and equal protection of law as guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution.”

Ramani was asked to furnish bail bonds and surety bonds for sum of Rs 10,000 each, in terms of Section 437­A of the CrPC.

BACKGROUND

The trial had been underway at the Rouse Avenue Court for almost two years, and is closely tied to the legacy of the discourse-altering #MeToo movement.

Akbar had claimed that an article by Priya Ramani, written for Vogue in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement, and a subsequent tweet about him in 2018 when the movement was sweeping India, caused damage to his “stellar reputation”. Ramani has contested these claims and pleaded truth as her defence.

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