Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, has filed a defamation case against the first woman who accused him, journalist Priya Ramani. This comes in a day after he returned from Nigeria from his official trip and said he was taking appropriate legal action against the "false" accusations.
In his defamation suit, the 67-year-old has accused Priya Ramani of "willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously defaming" him on "completely false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous grounds", thus, harming his goodwill and reputation.
"The complainant (Akbar) also had a long career in journalism, he launched India's first weekly political news magazine," the complaint said and listed out defamatory imputations made by Ramani on social media. "Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivating."
The former editor of newspapers like The Telegraph and the Asian Age was named by Priya Ramani in a tweet, on October 8, where she revealed MJ Akbar was the man she had referred to in an incident she had shared in a magazine article a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US fuelled a storm of #MeToo allegations. Later, many female journalists shared their stories and claimed that the former journalist and current minister is a predator.
The complaint, filed through advocate Sandeep Kapur, seeks issuance of notice to Ramani under Section 499 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 500 of the IPC provides that an accused may be awarded two years jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.