Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Rule of Law Women

MJ Akbar defamation case against Priya Ramani transferred to District and Sessions Judge

Advocate Rebecca John had spent three months arguing the case, the final arguments will now be placed before the new judge

Sabrangindia 13 Oct 2020

Image Courtesy:newslaundry.com

"It is frustrating, but I am the recipient of the order, not the maker,” Senior Advocate Rebecca John told SabrangIndia on Tuesday, soon after a defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani was transferred to a District and Sessions Judge. Advocate Rebecca John has already concluded her submissions on behalf of Priya Ramani. It was MJ Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra’s turn to reply to John’s final arguments.

However, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja listed the matter before a District and Sessions Judge of the Rouse Avenue District Court on October 14 for appropriate orders. According to news reports, ACMM Vishal Pahuja, said that “only matters filed against MPs and MLAs can be listed before the Rouse House Avenue Court” whereas the case filed by MJ Akbar, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, dealt with defamation. Akbar had filed the case against journalist Priya Ramani for accusing him of sexual harassment when he was her editor.

While observing that this court would only deal with matters relating to Parliamentarians and legislators, ACMM Pahuja cited directions issued by the Supreme Court relating to matters relating to lawmakers pending against courts. “There has been direction from the Supreme Court... This case has to be placed before the learned District & Sessions Judge for directions. This court will only deal with cases against MP/MLAs... I am listing it for directions before the District & Sessions Judge,” Judge Vishal was quoted by the legal postal Bar and Bench.

 

According to Advocate John, she and her team had already spent three months arguing the case. Another senior lawyer familiar with the case added that such a transfer was not unusual, but could certainly cause a further delay before the verdict is pronounced. The final arguments will have to be placed before the new judge. 

In her last closing submissions in the case Advocate John had said on behalf of Priya Ramani, "I have proved my case and I deserve to be acquitted." Now the matter will be heard by the District &  Sessions Judge on October 14. After consideration, the District & Sessions Judge will pass an order on whether the case will continue before Judge Pahuja, stated Bar and Bench. Sujata Kohli, District & Sessions Judge-Cum Special Judge (PC Act/CBI) acts as the administrative head of the administrative head of Rouse Avenue Court Complex. She will hear the matter tomorrow morning and pass necessary directions.

As reported earlier, Ramani has stood by her allegations over the past years, and has in turn empowered other women journalists to come out with similar stories of being sexually harassed by Akbar over the years. The #MeToo movement in India, especially Indian journalism, cost Akbar his ministerial job, as his political patrons chose to distance themselves.

As expected, Ramani, a survivor of the sexual attack, was even asked in court about the ‘delay’ in reporting the crime when it happens. There was a “vacuum in law 25 years ago,” was her brief and powerful reply. "When the incident took place in 1993 there was a gap in the law...whom could I have complained to? Legally I could not have evoked sexual harassment act because it was not in place," Ramani said. Former Union minister M J Akbar’s case in the defamation suit against her was centred on his “stellar reputation”, but this was false and “I had every right to contest it,” journalist Priya Ramani told the court. 

In 2018 as the #MeToo movement was picking up in India, Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual harassment, the incident took place around 25 years ago when she was a junior journalist, and he a powerful editor. After she had made the allegations, Akbar was eventually forced to resign as a Union minister in October 2018, and more women who had once worked as his juniors also came forth with similar allegations. 

Related:

Why do the mighty cry ‘defamation’ when accused of sexual harassment?
#MeToo: From Courtroom to Cinema
Why the ‘Me Too’ movement in India is succeeding at last
On Akbar and the #MeToo Movement
After #MeToo: Legal System Needs Change
AIDWA Demands Resignation of Minister of State for External Affairs, M J Akbar

MJ Akbar defamation case against Priya Ramani transferred to District and Sessions Judge

Advocate Rebecca John had spent three months arguing the case, the final arguments will now be placed before the new judge

Image Courtesy:newslaundry.com

"It is frustrating, but I am the recipient of the order, not the maker,” Senior Advocate Rebecca John told SabrangIndia on Tuesday, soon after a defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani was transferred to a District and Sessions Judge. Advocate Rebecca John has already concluded her submissions on behalf of Priya Ramani. It was MJ Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra’s turn to reply to John’s final arguments.

However, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja listed the matter before a District and Sessions Judge of the Rouse Avenue District Court on October 14 for appropriate orders. According to news reports, ACMM Vishal Pahuja, said that “only matters filed against MPs and MLAs can be listed before the Rouse House Avenue Court” whereas the case filed by MJ Akbar, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, dealt with defamation. Akbar had filed the case against journalist Priya Ramani for accusing him of sexual harassment when he was her editor.

While observing that this court would only deal with matters relating to Parliamentarians and legislators, ACMM Pahuja cited directions issued by the Supreme Court relating to matters relating to lawmakers pending against courts. “There has been direction from the Supreme Court... This case has to be placed before the learned District & Sessions Judge for directions. This court will only deal with cases against MP/MLAs... I am listing it for directions before the District & Sessions Judge,” Judge Vishal was quoted by the legal postal Bar and Bench.

 

According to Advocate John, she and her team had already spent three months arguing the case. Another senior lawyer familiar with the case added that such a transfer was not unusual, but could certainly cause a further delay before the verdict is pronounced. The final arguments will have to be placed before the new judge. 

In her last closing submissions in the case Advocate John had said on behalf of Priya Ramani, "I have proved my case and I deserve to be acquitted." Now the matter will be heard by the District &  Sessions Judge on October 14. After consideration, the District & Sessions Judge will pass an order on whether the case will continue before Judge Pahuja, stated Bar and Bench. Sujata Kohli, District & Sessions Judge-Cum Special Judge (PC Act/CBI) acts as the administrative head of the administrative head of Rouse Avenue Court Complex. She will hear the matter tomorrow morning and pass necessary directions.

As reported earlier, Ramani has stood by her allegations over the past years, and has in turn empowered other women journalists to come out with similar stories of being sexually harassed by Akbar over the years. The #MeToo movement in India, especially Indian journalism, cost Akbar his ministerial job, as his political patrons chose to distance themselves.

As expected, Ramani, a survivor of the sexual attack, was even asked in court about the ‘delay’ in reporting the crime when it happens. There was a “vacuum in law 25 years ago,” was her brief and powerful reply. "When the incident took place in 1993 there was a gap in the law...whom could I have complained to? Legally I could not have evoked sexual harassment act because it was not in place," Ramani said. Former Union minister M J Akbar’s case in the defamation suit against her was centred on his “stellar reputation”, but this was false and “I had every right to contest it,” journalist Priya Ramani told the court. 

In 2018 as the #MeToo movement was picking up in India, Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual harassment, the incident took place around 25 years ago when she was a junior journalist, and he a powerful editor. After she had made the allegations, Akbar was eventually forced to resign as a Union minister in October 2018, and more women who had once worked as his juniors also came forth with similar allegations. 

Related:

Why do the mighty cry ‘defamation’ when accused of sexual harassment?
#MeToo: From Courtroom to Cinema
Why the ‘Me Too’ movement in India is succeeding at last
On Akbar and the #MeToo Movement
After #MeToo: Legal System Needs Change
AIDWA Demands Resignation of Minister of State for External Affairs, M J Akbar

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives