Stellar Image Ruined: MJ Akbar’s Lawyer Makes Final Argument Again

Priya Ramani’s lawyer said that she stands by her statement.

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Gender
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MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani defamation hearing. 
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Advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for former Union Minister MJ Akbar in his defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, began her final submission afresh before the Rouse Avenue Court on Tuesday, 24 November.

Luthra began with submissions on Akbar’s professional life and said that he had a “long and illustrious career.”

This development comes in the aftermath of the transfer of ACMM Vishal Pahuja who had so far been hearing the case and had heard the final arguments already.

On Saturday, 21 November, newly-appointed Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey who is now hearing the matter, asked if there was any scope for a settlement, as the case was compoundable.

In response to the same, Advocate Bhavook Chauhan, appearing for Priya Ramani answered in negative. Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for MJ Akbar, however, said that she would have to take instructions from her briefing counsel.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing too, the court asked Ramani’s counsel if there had been been a chance to talk “or are the doors shut”, to which Advocate Bhavook Chauhan had replied: “No, our stand is clear.”

“Ramani stands by her statement. If the complainant wants to withdraw then he may bring it on record.”
Advocate Bhavook Chauhan

Advocate Sandeep Kapur, appearing for Akbar, also asked for the proceedings to continue on merits.

The next hearing has been fixed for 2 December.

Akbar’s ‘Impeccable Reputation’ Was Tarnished by Ramani’s Vogue Article & Tweets: Geeta Luthra

Geeta Luthra, according to LiveLaw, exhibited documents before the court to prove the ‘impeccable reputation’ of MJ Akbar. She also included statements made by Akbar’s character witnesses Veenu Sandal, Jyotika Basu and Tapan Chakki.

“I had always held Akbar in high esteem and have admired his scholarly work,” Sandal had stated.

Further, she referred to statement made by Akbar during his examination in chief, and pointed out some ‘inaccuracies’ in one of Ramani’s tweets pertaining to Akbar’s resignation as a Union minister.

Luthra drew the attention of the court to Ramani's tweets.

According to LiveLaw, Luthra also went on to read a tweet by Ramani calling Abkar 'media's biggest sexual predator' and said:

“Ramani showed extreme carelessness. It’s very easy to go to the public domain and tarnish someone’s reputation. Look at the expression used! Look at the responsibility or the lack of it in calling someone a predator, without any basis.”   

Further, referring a tweet by Ramani in which she had prematurely claimed MJ Akbar’s resignation as a Union minister, and had later accepted that she was inaccurate in doing so, Luthra alleged: “Ramani’s wrong tweet about Akbar's resignation was not done in good faith; it shows her malice. “

Geeta Luthra, according to LiveLaw, also claimed:

“Akbar’s stellar reputation was tarnished and harmed. He didn’t do anything but the news that called him a sexual predator continued to spread.”   

Further, Luthra, according to LiveLaw alleged that Akbar’s reputation was impacted by Ramani’s Vogue article and tweets.

“Ramani's article is per se defamatory as there's no basis for it. She didn't mention in her article that it doesn't refer to Akbar in its entirety.”

Background

The defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani was brought on by MJ Akbar in 2018. The case has been underway since then.

In a 2017 article about sexual predators at workplace, written for the Vogue, Ramani had described her own ordeal of having been sexually harassed by a former boss. A year later, in the wake of the #MeToo Movement, Ramani had alleged on social media that the former boss had, in fact, been Akbar.

Akbar had subsequently filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani, asserting that Ramani’s allegations were false and that the article had cost him his “stellar reputation”, even though only the initial part of the article, and not the article in its entirety had been about Akbar.

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