Support pours in for journalist Priya Ramani after criminal defamation case by MJ Akbar

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Minutes after Union Minister MJ Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, a wave of support poured in on Twitter in favour of the latter. Among those who extended their support are senior journalists and legal professionals.

Priya Ramani

Akbar, who has been accused of sexual harassment by over a dozen female journalists, had on Monday hired a legal firm with 97 lawyers to file a criminal defamation case against Ramani at Delhi’s Patiala House Court. The case will come up for the hearing in the post-lunch session on Tuesday.

No sooner had the news of Akbar hiring the services of the biggest law firm against Ramani, several journalists, politicians and legal professionals extended their support to the journalist. Journalist Sucheta Dalal wrote, “Hey @priyaramani and all 14 who have spoke up. Let’s crowd fund your defence. I am sure may top lawyers will help you fight pro bono, but we at @MoneylifeIndia know there are lots of expenses involved! So think about it! Happy to support I am sure thousands of others will too!”

Journalist Harinder Baweja tweeted, “I am happy and willing to donate money to @priyaramani for the battle against MJ Akbar. No woman should feel sexually harrassed or intimidated. Those willing to contribute, even small sums, to make their #MeToo voice count.”

Journalist Barkha Dutt wrote, “In total solidarity with @priyaramani & all women who have bravely chronicled their harassment & abuse at the hands of #MkJakbar. Hope fight goes beyond defense in defamation to actively pursuing other options like prosecution; NCW , Parliament panels. I stand with you #MeToo”

Elsewhere, Supreme Court lawyers including Indira Jaising, Rebecca John and Vrinda Grover have reportedly agreed to represent Ramani. Journalist Angshukanta tweeted, “I say bring it on. @PriyaRamani and us women journalists too have the best women legal eagles on our side. @IJaising, Rebecca John, @VrindaGrover, as well as some of the coolest criminal defamation lawyers in the country. They might be 97; we are guts, brainpower & solidarity.”

Meanwhile, Ramani issued a statement stating that she was deeply disappointed that a union minister had dismissed the allegations of several women as a political conspiracy.  She said that by instituting a case of criminal defamation against her, Akbar had made his stand clear. Ramani wrote, “Rather than engaging with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment.”

 

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.”

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