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#MeTooMovement: Court acquits journalist Priya Ramani in MJ Akbar’s defamation case

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Priya
Williams Babalola
A Delhi Court on Wednesday afternoon acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in criminal defamation case by MJ Akbar stating that a woman has a right to voice her grievance even after several years.
In 2018, Ramani had made allegation of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of #Metoo movement. The former journalist alleged that she was sexually harassed by Akbar in December 1993 when she was deceived to a Mumbai hotel for a job interview.
Also, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Ravindra Kumar, had on February 1 reserved the judgment for February 10 after Akbar, as well as Ramani, completed their arguments.
However, on February 10, the court deferred the judgment for February 17, saying the verdict was not complete since both the parties filed their written submission late.
The verdict, which was earlier expected to be pronounced at 2pm on Wednesday, was delayed after the judge said his judgement needed corrections.
In 15 October, 2018, Akbar filed a complaint against Priya Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago.
He resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018.
While concluding her arguments, Ramani’s counsel, Rebecca John, had argued that Ramani’s 2018 tweet on “men in high positions who commit acts of sexual harassment in the workplace” was done in public interest.
John told the court, “It cannot be anyone’s case that men in high positions are entitled to sexually harass their subordinates.”
She had also raised the “selective prosecution” against Ramani, since serious charges against Akbar of sexual assault and rape had also been made by Ghazala Wahab and Pallavi Gogoi. John had said it was because Ramani was a “soft and vulnerable target” and that, perhaps, Akbar “feared the consequences” of graver allegations.
Several women have come out to accuse Akbar of molesting them during the #MeToo campaign against him but he has, however, denied all claims.

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