Defamation case: Delhi HC acquits journalist Priya Ramani

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday acquitted former journalist Priya Ramani in a criminal defamation case filed against her by former union minister MJ Akbar over her allegations of sexual harassment amid the “me too” movement in 2018.
The court order, earlier expected to be pronounced at 1400 hrs, was delayed after the judge said his judgement needed corrections.
Judge Ravindra Kumar Pandey held that the content of Priya Ramani’s Vogue article is per se defamatory, and has rejected Ramani’s claim that only two paragraphs and not the entire article were related to Akbar.
However, the court also took consideration of systemic abuse at workplace, saying, “Women can’t be punished for raising instances of sexual abuse by complaints claiming defamation.”
Citing ancient epics ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’ in its judgement, the court said they were written to show the importance of dignity of a woman.
The bench observed that even a man of social status can be a ‘sexual harasser.’
“The society must understand the impact of sexual abuse and harassment on its victims”, the Court noted.
Senior counsel Rebecca John, appeared on behalf of Ramani.
In an article in the Vogue magazine, Ms Raman had said the alleged sexual misconduct took place around 20 years ago, when Mr Akbar headed Asian Age. He had called her to his hotel bedroom for a job interview and behaved inappropriately, she had said.

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