The Delhi Supreme Court on Wednesday asked for the position of journalist Priya Ramani in former Union Minister MJ Akbar’s appeal against a court verdict in his criminal defamation lawsuit against her over sexual harassment allegations on the grounds that it was “based was on conjecture and conjecture”.
The court ruled the case as if it were a sexual harassment case rather than the defamation lawsuit he brought against her, MJ Akbar told the Supreme Court in his appeal.
“The contested verdict, which is based on presumptions and conjectures, cannot stand even from a prima facie view and can therefore be quashed,” said MJ Akbar.
Justice Mukta Gupta notified Ms. Ramani of the appeal and listed it on January 13 for further consideration.
Leading lawyers Rajiv Nayar and Geeta Luthra, who appeared before MJ Akbar, argued that the court wrongly acquitted Ms Ramani, despite concluding that her charges were defamatory in nature.
“He (judge of the court) says there is defamation. The case falls under Section 499 IPC. He finds it defamatory. The verdict should have been finalized after this finding is reversed,” explained Mr Nayar.
The court replied that finding defamatory content is the “first step” in the proceedings, after which the court must consider the defendant’s defense.
“The court says they are defamatory in themselves and but in the context of which she made the allegations there was a valid defense,” the judge said.
Senior counsel, Mr Luthra, argued that the court delivered the verdict without regard to any objections raised during the trial.
“Nothing has been decided. The (trial) court then decided on Ram and Ravan. Objections are not decided or investigated,” she said.
MJ Akbar, in his plea through Senior Partner, Karanjawala & Co – Sandeep Kapur, has argued that the court did not value the arguments and evidence.
The Court of First Instance erred in treating the present case as a sexual harassment complaint, when in fact it was a defamation complaint. a case of defamation, as the defendant has provided no admissible corroborating evidence other than her own testimony,” the appeal reads.
MJ Akbar has also claimed that the court “made a grave mistake” in finding that he did not have an excellent reputation and disregarded the established principles of criminal law jurisprudence.
“When making the contested judgment, the Ld. ACMM wrongly invoked the Defendant’s assertion that the Appellant is not a man with an excellent and impeccable reputation, which speaks volumes about not applying the spirit, while he passes the disputed judgment, rendering the same as bad in law and in fact.”
MJ Akbar has challenged the February 17 court order to acquit Ms Ramani in the case on the grounds that a woman has the right to present grievances to any platform of her choice, even after decades.
The court dismissed MJ Akbar’s complaint and said that no charges were brought against Ms. Ramani was proven.
It held that MJ Akbar’s case of committing an offense under Section 500 (punishment for the offense of defamation) IPC against Ms Ramani has not been proved and she is acquitted for the same.
The court had said it was shameful that crimes against women take place in a country where mega-epic events take place Mahabharata and Ramayana were written about respecting them.
The glass ceiling will not hold back Indian women as a roadblock to progress in the equal opportunity society, it had said.
Ms Ramani had made allegations of sexual misconduct against MJ Akbar in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018.
MJ Akbar had filed a complaint against Ms Ramani on October 15, 2018 for alleged defamation against him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago.
He resigned as Union Minister on October 17, 2018.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)