Former Union Minister MJ Akbar, who filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for alleged sexual harassment, denied ever meeting her in the Oberoi Hotel for a job interview.
Mr Akbar appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal in connection with his defamation case against Ms Ramani. The court adjourned the hearing to July 6.
Mr Akbar denied meeting Ms Ramani, who had applied for a job at the Asian Age newspaper, at the Oberoi Hotel. He made the statement while being cross-examined by Ms Ramani’s counsel senior advocate Rebecca John.
The courtroom witnessed heated exchanges between Mr Akbar and Ms Ramani’s lawyers during the course of the hearing. Senior advocate Geeta Luthra – appearing for Mr Akbar – interrupted Ms Ramani’s counsel several times with demands that the cross-examination be conducted in a question-answer format. She was finally asked to stop by the judge.
Mr Akbar, who resigned as the junior foreign minister in October last year, filed a defamation complaint against Ms Ramani after his name cropped on social media as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India.
“As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation. I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court,” Ms Ramani, one of the first woman to accuse Mr Akbar, had tweeted the day he resigned.
Days later, he filed a defamation case claiming that Priya Ramani damaged his reputation by levelling “false, wild and baseless allegations”.
A US-based journalist has also levelled sexual harassment allegations against Mr Akbar, who, she claimed assaulted her at a Jaipur hotel over 23 years ago, followed by instances of “sexual, verbal and emotional” defilement. When the former Union Minister insisted that theirs was a consensual affair, she said that a relationship “based on coercion and abuse of power” cannot be couched in such terms.
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