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Judiciary

Priya Ramani Defamation Case: "There Is No Due Care & Caution In Calling Akbar A Pervert & A Predator On Social Media" Says Geeta Luthra, MJ Akbar's Lawyer

By LawStreet News Network      08 February, 2020 02:02 PM      0 Comments

Journalist Priya Ramani  was the first woman to have accused MJ Akbar, the Former Minister of State of External Affairs of sexual harassment during the #MeToo campaign in 2018. A defamation case for levelling sexual harassment allegations was filed against her by Akbar in October 2018. On the 7th of February, 2020 MJ Akbar's Counsel Geeta Luthra presented her final arguments on the defamation suit against Ramani. The afternoon hearing did not witness the presence of Ramani and her lawyer Rebecca John in the Rouse Avenue Court of Additional Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja. Upon reading out Akbar's complaint against Ramani, Luthra argued that her client's reputation and his career of 44 years had been damaged. 

"The salacious and malicious statements made by Ramani are ex facie defamatory." 

"If anybody can tar anyone's image without any evidence like phone records, images or videos, we cannot be a social media country" Luthra added. 

She also put forth the question as to why Ramani had not complained about her harassment when it allegedly happened. "if someone had to make a grievance, it could have been made then and there." 

Luthra read out the Vogue article where the journalist had described her harassment, following which she brought up her tweet that revealed the unamed man was MJ Akbar. The tweet read, “I began my piece with MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he did not ‘do’ anything. Lots of women have a worse story about this predator.”

Later on Luthra emphasized the words - "predator and prevert" and provided their dictionary meaning. Furthermore, she read out a series of Ramani's tweets from 2018 and put forth a series of questions. 

What sense would anybody get from it? That this man is bad, he’s a pervert, a predator.” “Where is due care and caution? She never specifically mentioned in which parts of her article she was referring to Mr Akbar?”

She referred to Ramani's tweet on Akbar's resignation as a Minister and put forth the arguments, “Is this what you say is your victory. The most important aspect of a person’s career is his reputation.”

The sexual assault case of 2013 against former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal was brought up. The incident took place in 2013 and Ramani could have spoken up about the alleged misconduct at that time as well. 

Luthra furthermore quoted one Veenu Sandal who told her that there was no truth in the allegations made by Ramani. A corporate communication consultant Tapan Chalo who has known Akbar for a long time contended that he had the highest regard for Mr. Akbar both as a man and a journalist. 

And finally she concluded that the people who have worked with Mr. Akbar for years have not heard anything against him and then this bandwagon takes places by referring him as the worst predator. 

Geeta Luthra will continue her arguments on February 28, 2020. 

 

Author - Dyuti Pandya



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