Union Minister MJ Akbar has hired a law firm with 97 lawyers to file a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for accusing him of sexual harassment.
According to a report News18, Akbar filed the criminal defamation case against Ramani in Delhi’s Patiala House Court through his advocates Karanjawala and Co (see below). The junior foreign minister will be represented by 97 lawyers including 30 female advocates. His case is likely to come up for hearing immediately after lunch on Tuesday.
Ramanai, in an article written for Vogue last year, had termed the journalist-turned-politician a ‘talented predator’ while recounting her experience.
Without naming Akbar, Ramani had said how Akbar 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.”
She had added, “The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you. I’m fine, I replied with a strained smile. I escaped that night, you hired me, I worked for you for many months even though I swore I would never be in a room alone with you again.”
Ramani had then tweeted sharing the link of her last year’s blog. She wrote, “I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator—maybe they’ll share.”
Amidst growing demands for his resignation, a defiant Akbar on Sunday had said that he may take legal action against those women, who had accused him of sexual violence through social media posts.
In his statement later, Akbar had decided to take legal action against those women, who had accused him of sexual misconduct during his time as the editor of Asian Age and The Telegraph.
“Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill… This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action,” MJ Akbar was quoted as saying.
As many as 10 women, who had reportedly worked under Akbar in the past, had said that the latter sexually assaulted them at the office of the newspaper, edited by him. While some alleged that he would call them to his hotel rooms for ‘job interviews,’ others accused him of sexually attacking them inside his personal office space.
Akbar, in his statement according to ANI, said, “Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy.”