Delhi HC issues notice on MJ Akbar’s appeal against Priya Ramani’s acquittal in criminal defamation case
The criminal defamation case was filed by MJ Akbar in after he was accused by several women of sexual harassment, following a tweet by journalist Priya Ramani as part of the '#MeToo' movement
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice on an appeal filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar challenging the acquittal of journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case filed by him over the '#MeToo' sexual harassment allegations made by her.
Justice Mukta Gupta issued notice to the Respondent and fixed the case for hearing on January 13, 2022, Live Law reported.
The Court heard Senior Advocate's Geeta Luthra and Rajiv Nayar for the Appellant who stated that the Trial Court had erred in acquitting Ramani, even after coming to a finding that her tweets were defamatory in nature.
"My case was under Section 499 IPC and the Trial Court found that the contents are defamatory. So the minute such a finding is returned, nothing further has to be adjudicated. These observations pertaining to sexual harassment are unnecessary," Nayar argued.
The Court however told Nayar that determining whether the contents are defamatory or not is only the first step in prosecution.
"That's first step. If it is found not defamatory, there's no need to go further. But if it's found that the contents are defamatory, then 2nd step is to determine whether the defence taken by her was right," the Court opined.
Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra contended that during trial, the Court left the question of admissibility of documents open, for determination at the time of judgment. However, they were not decided. "Instead, the Court goes on to talk about Ram and Ravan..." she submitted.
She added that the Trial Court accepted contention of accused and possibility of defence of accused that she disclosed the truth regarding sexual harassment against her. "You can’t rely on "possibility of defence," she said.
The criminal defamation case was filed by MJ Akbar in a Delhi Court in October 2018, after he was accused by several women of sexual harassment, following a tweet by Ramani as part of the '#MeToo' movement, revealing that the person referred to as a sexual harasser in an earlier article written by her in 'The Vogue' was Akbar.
A Delhi Court on February 17 acquitted Priya Ramani in the Case.