MJ Akbar has been a ‘thorough gentleman with impeccable reputation’: Woman journalist in Delhi court

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A woman journalist has told a Delhi court that MJ Akbar was a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation. Journalist Joyeeta Basu was deposing in a defamation case filed by the former union minister against journalist Priya Ramani following her article alleging sexual misconduct against him.

MJ Akbar

Basu, according to NDTV, told the court that she ‘considered him(Akbar) to be a brilliant journalist, a scholarly writer and a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation’ in her eyes and ‘in the eyes of the public.’ Basu said that Akbar had hired her in 1998 for his newspaper The Asian Age. 

She added, “I have always held him in high regard. He has been perfectly professional in his dealings with me. He has always been a tough task master… a thorough professional and a brilliant teacher who taught me all aspects of newspaper journalism, right from production to story selection to intricacies of layout.”

Last month, Basu had taken to Twitter in defence of Akbar, who was forced to resign from the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of several woman journalists sharing their MeToo stories against him. Basu had written, “Since so many people are talking, hear my story too: @mjakbar has been one of the best bosses I have worked with. Learnt everything I know about newspapers from him. A tough taskmaster and a thorough professional. Never felt uncomfortable. NEVER.”

 

Basu is one of the six journalists Akbar has chosen as witnesses in his defamation case against Ramani.

Last month, Akbar had told the Delhi’s Patiala House Court that the allegations of sexual misconduct against him by journalist Priya Ramani had lowered his reputation in the eyes of the public.

After Ramani wrote her experience about Akbar, nearly two dozen female journalists have come forward alleging serious sexual misconduct against Akbar during his time as the editor of The Asian Age and The Telegraph.

Akbar had filed the criminal defamation case against Ramani in Delhi’s Patiala House Court through his advocates Karanjawala and Co. Ramani had received an unprecedented support from across India. As many as 20 journalists had volunteered to testify against Akbar.

Without naming Akbar, Ramani had written how the journalist-turned-politician had invited her to her hotel room for a job interview. Admitting that she was a fan of Akbar’s journalism, Ramani wrote, “It was more date, less interview. You offered me a drink from the mini bar (I refused, you drank vodka), we sat on a small table for two that overlooked the Queen’s Necklace (how romantic!) and you sang me old Hindi songs after inquiring after my musical preferences. You thought you were irresistible.”

Earlier this month, a US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi had accused him of rape.  Responding to Gogoi’s rape allegations, both Akbar and his wife Mallika Akbar had claimed that the journalist was in a consensual relationship. 

 

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