Delhi Court Acquits Journalist Priya Ramani In Defamation Case Filed By MJ Akbar

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New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in a criminal defamation case by former union minister MJ Akbar observing that “even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser.”

“Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self-confidence. The right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of the right to dignity. A woman has the right to put her grievance even after decades,” the court said.

“The Indian constitution allows women to put forward her grievances before any forum and at any time,” the judge said, taking cognisance of the lack of mechanisms to raise sexual harassment complaints, NDTV reported.

“It can’t be ignored that most times sexual harassment is committed behind closed doors… Most of the women who suffer abuse can’t often speak up due to stigma and attack on their character” added Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey.

“It feels amazing, truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment has got the attention it deserves despite the fact that it is me, being the victim who had to stand up in court as the accused,” she told the media after the verdict.

Ramani had made allegations of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar had on February 1 reserved the judgment for February 10 after Akbar, as well as Ramani, completed their arguments.

Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani on October 15, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago. He resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018. He has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment against the women who came forward during #MeToo campaign against him.

Ramani later thanked her lawyer Rebecca John and her team, who she said put their heart and soul in the case. John said, “…when you fight powerful people, you have only truth on your side. This is probably the most important case for me.”

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