Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs, M. J. Akbar on Monday filed a defamation case in Delhi’s Patiala House Court against Priya Ramani, the journalist who alleged that Akbar sexually harassed her.
A statement from Akbar’s lawyers confirmed that the complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
Akbar has been facing flak over the allegations, with opposition parties demanding the minister’s resignation.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on Sunday did not indicate any decision to step down and said that he will take a legal recourse in the matter.
Reacting to legal action from BJP Minister Ramani’s statement came hours after Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against her at a Delhi court and around the same time one more woman came forward with a #MeToo story about MJ Akbar (more on that later).
“Truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” Ramani said in her statement as she criticised Akbar for attempting to silence women through “intimidation and harassment”.
Responding to the defamation case, a host of Twitterati promised to crowd source a fund to back Priya Ramani and other accusers.
In October last year, when the #MeToo campaign peaked in Hollywood, journalist Priya Ramani had written an article for Vogue India, titled, “To the Harvey Weinstein of the world” and narrated her ordeal about the gut-wrenching incident of sexual misconduct she faced during a job interview with a renowned journalist who had “transformed Indian journalism”.Akbar, who on Sunday returned from an official trip to Nigeria, issued a statement, denying all allegations as “wild and baseless.”
“Ms Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not however name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a Tweet: ‘Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything.’
If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story’ There is no story. This was admitted at the very inception,” Akbar’s statement read.