Defamation case filed by MJ Akbar to continue before Special MP-MLA Court

The MP had filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who was among many accusing him of sexual harassment

MJ Akbar

On Thursday October 23, the District & Sessions Judge, Rouse Avenue finally refused to transfer the case from a Special MP/MLA Court, reported Bar and Bench. 


This court has heard the case since 2018, however, a couple of weeks ago the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja had listed the matter before a District and Sessions Judge of the Rouse Avenue District Court on October 14 for appropriate orders. Advocate Rebecca John had spent three months arguing the case, the brilliant final arguments were reported widely. But ACMM Vishal Pahuja, had 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. ACMM Pahuja had 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…” Sujata Kohli, District & Sessions Judge-Cum Special Judge (PC Act/CBI) had reserved order on the issue of transfer on October 14. 

And today, October 22, the Judge refused to transfer the defamation case away from a Special MP/MLA Court. The next hearing is on November 2, when Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra is expected to give her ‘rejoinder’ to Rebecca John’s final arguments, after this the is likely to be reserved for judgement.



The possibility of a transfer had created a moment of frustration as that could have meant that the final arguments would have to start again, possibly adding more months to the day a judgment could be expected. “It is frustrating, but I am the recipient of the order, not the maker,” Senior Advocate Rebecca John representing Priya Ramani, had told SabrangIndia when the case was transferred to the District and Sessions Judge to decide on the appropriate court to hear it. A senior lawyer familiar with the case had said that such transfers were not unusual, but could certainly cause a delay before the verdict is pronounced as final arguments will have to be placed afresh before the new judge. 

According to Bar and Bench, the counsel for MJ Akbar had urged that the matter be sent back to the Special Court to save judicial time, and Ramani’s counsel had left the issue to the wisdom of the court.

As reported earlier, in her closing submissions Advocate John had said on behalf of Priya Ramani, “I have proved my case and I deserve to be acquitted.” 

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.

Ramani has stood by her allegations over the years, and has in turn empowered other women journalists to come out with similar examples where they alleged that they were sexually harassed by editor MJ 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 from him.



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

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



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