New Delhi : A Delhi court on Tuesday issued summons to journalist Priya Ramani in a defamation case filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal asked Ramani to appear before the court on February 25, noting that the the allegations of sexual harassment by Ramani were prima facie defamatory and refers to complainant Akbar.
“All that is necessary to take a prima facie view that the offence of defamation has been committed against the complainant, by the respondent Priya Ramani exists on record, and therefore there are sufficient grounds to proceed against her,” the court said.
“Accordingly, Priya Ramani is summoned for commission of offence of defamation under Section 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.”
Akbar has denied the allegations made against him said that they were false and imaginary.
“These defamatory statements have been published, widely read and particularly by the witnesses examined who deposed that the reputation of the complainant was lowered,” the court said.
The court also said that at this stage, it only has the version of the complainant, who has on oath deposed that all the allegations made are false and further brought witnesses to vouch for his impeccable and unblemished reputation.
The witnesses also proved that the reputation of the complainant was lowered in their eyes — again an essential requirement of the offence of defamation.
“A person cannot be defamed in his own eyes. A man’s reputation is the estimate in which others holds him, not the good opinion which he has of himself,” the court said.
“There has to be other reasonable, prudent and right thinking members of society who say that the reputation of a person aggrieved is lowered in their estimation.”
Akbar’s counsel and senior advocate Geeta Luthra and lawyer Sandeep Kapur told the court that Ramani had damaged Akbar’s reputation which he had built over the years through hard work.
The counsel argued that the allegations made in the article in Vogue and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as Akbar has deposed that the allegations were false and imaginary.
The counsel also submitted that the subsequent publications based on the Ramani allegations further aggravated defamation.
The counsel argued that Ramani has herself admitted that she didn’t name the complainant earlier as he didn’t do anything to her. The counsel said then what was the basis for her to make such allegations which completely injured and demolished his reputation for eternity.
Ramani was the first in a long list of women journalists to accuse the former Minister of State for External Affairs and journalist-turned-politician of sexual harassment.
The statements of seven witnesses, including that of Akbar, who is now with the Bharatiya Janata Party, have been recorded.
The Rajya Sabha member has denied all charges against him as “false, wild and baseless”.