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Delhi Court Finds Priya Ramani ‘Not Guilty’ In MJ Akbar’s Criminal Defamation Case

It was observed by the court that a woman has the right to put her unfairness even after decades where men on high positions can be a harasser.

By- Sanidhya Sharma, O.P. Jindal Global University

A court in Delhi, on this Wednesday, acquitted Priya Ramani who is a journalist in the criminal defamation case that was filed by the former Union Minister MJ Akbar. He was responsible for the allegations that were made up against him as Ramani had accused Akbar of sexually harassing her during the initial period when the #MeToo movement was gaining huge popularity in the year 2018.

The court stated that it is very embarrassing and shameful that the crimes against women have been and are still taking place in our country where the beautiful and mega epics were given birth to, like Mahabharata and Ramayana, that were written to portray the respect that these women deserve to get. 

Society needs to develop, and it is in desperate need to get an advancement because the glass ceiling that is being provided for women is not enough considering the situation in our country. Ramani was full of content as her truth got vindicated in a court of law. In 2017, she wrote an article for the Vogue where she described the traumatic experience that she suffered from being sexually harassed by a former boss for his publication and this happened while she was giving an interview. A year later, she revealed that the person who harassed her, as mentioned in the article, was MJ Akbar who was a Union Minister. Several women have accused him in the past of being sexually harassed by MJ Akbar and Ramani was not the only one, during the #MeToo movement. 

The former Union Minister complained against Ramani on October 15, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by blaming him of sexual misconduct, that he was responsible for, decades ago. After which, he resigned as the Union minister on October 17, 2018, and denied all the allegations and complaints of sexual harassment against all the women who came forward against him during the #MeToo movement. After some time, Akbar told the court that the allegations that were put up by Ramani are fictitious in nature and the allegations have made his reputation suffer. Ramani, after hearing these allegations, contested the claims made against her and she spoke out the truth that was a defense and mentioned that these allegations were put up in good faith, for the public good and the society’s interest.

The court observed that a man who is well-known in society and has some social status can also be a sexual harasser. The court said that that society is responsible and should understand the impact of harassment on the victims as it could destroy their life and career.

Her arguments were valid as according to Article 21, the right to equality will be guaranteed under the Indian constitution and the victim will have the full right to put her case on any platform, wherever she wishes to.

Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra was the representer of Mr. MJ Akbar whereas Ms. Priya Ramani was represented by the Senior Advocate, Rebecca John. The Court, while reserving the judgment in this matter, granted liberties to the parties for filing additional written statements within 4 days’ time. On the 1st of February, the case had reserved a judgment after hearing both sides’ rebuttal. The judgment was reserved on February 10th originally but was deferred for the 17th of February, when the judge stated that the written submission was delayed to the court and therefore there was more time that was demanded to deliver the verdict. 

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