India

Defamation case: Wrong to suggest I have mala fide motive against Akbar, says Ramani

Defamation case: Wrong to suggest I have mala fide motive against Akbar, says Ramani
M J Akbar resigned as Union minister on October 17 after journalist Priya Ramani accused him of sexual harassment.

Journalist Priya Ramani’s cross-examination ended at a Delhi court on Thursday, during which she denied a slew of suggestions put forward by for Union minister M J Akbar’s lawyers and told the court that all the events described by her were not a “figment of my imagination and work of fiction.”

Along with Ramani, her friend Niloufer Venkatraman’s cross-examination also concluded before the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja.

The court has set December 10 as the next date of hearing, when the final defence witness will testify in court.
Ramani had last year levelled allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against M J Akbar, who subsequently resigned as Union MoS for External Affairs and filed the defamation case.

Akbar’s counsel Geeta Luthra put forward a slew of suggestions, to which Ramani replied, “It is wrong to suggest that all details of the alleged event described by me are a figment of my imagination and a work of fiction. It is wrong to suggest that I had made the allegations against the complainant for oblique motive and not to empower women. It is wrong to suggest that I have mala fide and extraneous motive for making the allegations against Akbar.”

Ramani told the court that her tweets accusing Akbar were not “defamatory and malicious”. She said, “It is wrong to suggest that what I have done by publishing the tweets was wrong, defamatory and malicious. It is wrong to suggest that it has harmed the reputation of the complainant. It is wrong to suggest that my tweets and publication had nothing to do with ‘doing the right thing’.”

Luthra then asked Ramani, “In your previous cross-examination you stated that you may have issued clarification when you realised that the Firstpost news was incorrect. You also stated that you would check from the records.”
Ramani replied, “I did check my Twitter account (with) regard to clarification…. There were a lot of tweet threads and I was unable to find my clarification as stated during my earlier cross-examination.”

Ramani told the court that she reactivated her Twitter account for a day to check the records and deactivated it again.

During Niloufer’s cross-examination, Luthra put forward a suggestion that since Ramani deactivated her Twitter account all of Niloufer’s tweets which Ramani had retweeted are unavailable. Niloufer denied the suggestion.
Luthra then confronted Niloufer with WhatsApp messages exchanged between Ramani and her, and suggested that this was an outcome of prior discussions between the two.

Niloufer replied, “It is wrong to suggest that I have sent the WhatsApp messages after discussing with the accused…. It is wrong to suggest that I and the accused have planned and conspired to create a false narrative for a defence against the complainant’s (Akbar’s) possible legal action.”

Niloufer also denied Luthra’s suggestions that the job interview between Akbar and Ramani never took place. She told the court, “It is wrong to suggest that no such interview or meeting took place, and for this reason the accused and I never mentioned or discussed her Vogue India article in 2017 when it was originally published.”