#MeToo: MJ Akbar appears in court in defamation case filed by him against scribe Priya Ramani

New Delhi: Former Union Minister MJ Akbar on Saturday appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal for his cross-examination in connection with a defamation case filed by him against journalist Priya Ramani.

In February, Ramani was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000. She was the first woman to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment during the #MeToo campaign.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, the counsel of Ramani, had on May 20 asked several questions regarding an alleged meeting in a hotel room. However, Akbar during cross-examination had denied meeting with Ramani in a hotel room.

Akbar had claimed, “It is incorrect to suggest that I called Priya Ramani to come to my room. It is wrong to suggest that she was hesitant or that I insisted. It is correct that in December 1993 I was 42 years old and Priya Ramani was 23 years old. I do not know whether it was the first job interview by Priya Ramani after her graduation.”

Akbar went on to add, “I am not sure whether Priya Ramani was offered a job in Asian Age newspaper in January 1994 in Delhi Office. As it is a 25 years old matter and to the best of my knowledge, she was working in Bombay office.”

Ramani had on April 10 pleaded not guilty before the court and claimed trial after the court framed defamation charges against her on a criminal complaint of Akbar.

In one of the past hearings, the magistrate had also granted a permanent exemption to Ramani from personal appearance in the hearings to follow.

Akbar had filed a defamation case against the journalist for accusing him of sexual misconduct.

The allegations levelled against him forced him to resign from the Union Cabinet on October 17, 2018.

(With Agency Inputs)