A Delhi court on Wednesday acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in a defamation case filed by former Union minister MJ Akbar against her after she levelled allegations of sexual harassment by him. The court said a woman has the right to voice her grievance even after several years.
It was one of the most high-profile cases of “Metoo” that swept the country a couple of years back. Everyone was shocked when Priya Ramani accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment because he was a Union Minister and a very noted journalist of the country.
The judge pronounced the verdict sometime later in the day saying it needed corrections as against the earlier time at 2 pm.
The court invoked the ancient epics of India—Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and said that even then the dignity of a woman was upheld. It is very sad to witness such shameful acts happening in the modern times.
“Most women do not talk about the sexual harassment due to stigma that surrounds it. Sometimes even the victim does not understand as to what is happening. Despite going through extreme cruelty, they chose to stay quiet,” the court said.
The court agreed upon the contention that Akbar was not a man of stellar and impeccable reputation. The modesty of a woman is much higher than any social stature of anybody. The right of reputation can’t be weighed over the right of the life of a woman the court maintained.
Soon after Ramani made the allegations of sexual harassment against MJ Akbar in October 2018, which shocked the entire nation, several other women also came forward to tell their gory tales of harassment by Akbar.
On October 8, 2018, at the height of the “#metoo movement” Ramani tweeted with a reference to her 2017 Vogue India piece, stating “I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator—maybe they’ll share.”
Akbar, with the help of his coterie of over 90 attorneys filed a defamation case against Ms. Ramani and also resigned as a Union Minister.