Journalist Priya Ramani, who had accused former Union Minister, MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, back when the #MeToo movement was at its peak in 2018, has now submitted before a Delhi Court that her disclosures regarding Akbar were aimed at the ‘larger public good’. MJ Akbar had been accused of sexual abuse not just by Priya Ramani, but also three other journalists, with almost all the allegations being dated close to 20 years ago when Akbar was a journalist himself. By stating that her allegations were for the larger public good, Priya Ramani informed the court that they cannot be construed as ‘defamation’ as such.
According to a report by the New Indian Express, Ramani submitted the same before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja through her lawyer – Rebecca John during the final hearing of a private criminal defamation complaint filed by MJ Akbar against her.“A true imputation made in the public good is not defamation. It is not defamation to make an imputation on the character of another when it is made in good faith for the protection of his or other’s interest,” Ramani told the court. “I am saying this is my truth. It is the truth, is in good faith, touching public good,” Rebecca John said on behalf of Ramani.
MJ Akbar had rejected the allegations vociferously levied against him. He had also filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for “intentionally and maliciously harming his goodwill and reputation on completely false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous grounds”. It was during the hearing of the same defamation case that Priya Ramani made her submission of speaking out against MJ Akbar for the larger public good.
Priya Ramani had written about Akbar in an article authored by her for Vogue in 2017, without mentioning his name. However, when the #MeToo movement gathered steam in India, she named him. Others who have accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct are UK based journalist Ruth David and the US-based journalist Puy Kamp.Ghazala Wahab, another journalist, had accused Akbar of persistent sexual abuse.
After the allegations being levelled against him, Akbar resigned as Union Minister on October 17, 2018. In the defamation case, meanwhile, the court has fixed September 8 as the next date of hearing further arguments. Priya Ramani had called Akbar “media’s biggest predator”, which the accused told the court had tremendously harmed his reputation.