#MeToo: M J Akbar challenges Priya Ramani's acquittal
New Delhi, March 24, 2021
Former Union Minister M. J. Akbar has moved the Delhi High Court in appeal against the acquittal of journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case he filed against her.
Hearing in the appeal will be held by Justice Mukta Gupta on Thursday.
On February 17, a Delhi court had acquited Ramani in the case, with Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey holding: "The woman has right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice and even after decades."
The court had further said that right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of right to dignity. "Women cannot be punished for raising voice against the sexual abuse in the pretext of complaint of defamation."
In the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018, Ramani had made allegation of sexual harassment against Akbar.
Pursuant to this, he filed the criminal defamation case against her and resigned as Union Minister. Trial began in 2019 and went on for almost two years.
In 2017, Ramani wrote an article for Vogue where she described her ordeal of being sexually harassed by a former boss during her job interview for his publication.
One year later, she revealed that the person alluded to as harasser in that article was Akbar.
Akbar told the court that Ramani's allegations were fictitious and cost him his stellar reputation. Ramani, on the other hand, contested these claims, pleaded truth as her defence and said that she made allegations in good faith, public interest, and for public good.
The judgement in the case was important as it sets a precedent for similar cases which arose from the discourse-changing #MeToo movement.