In a 41-page defamation suit, MJ Akbar told a Delhi court today that journalist Priya Ramani’s article and tweets have spoiled his reputation and goodwill built over 40 years and he had to quit his job as the junior foreign minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government because of these allegations. The tweets and article, his lawyers said, were widely read and even picked up by the media abroad.
“Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda,” the petition read.
The deputy of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, Mr Akbar was abroad on an official tour when his name cropped up in the MeToo movement. On his return, he had trashed the allegations, saying he would take legal steps.
Mr Akbar had stepped down yesterday, saying as he had filed the case in his “personal” capacity, he thought it “appropriate” to step down from office and “challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity”.
Mr Akbar, who was not in court today, was represented by senior counsel Geeta Johri. The court, which agreed to hear the case, has asked him to record his statement on October 31.
The former minister contended that the journalist, while making allegations relating to events that allegedly occurred 20 years ago, “intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated, and salacious imputations to harm the reputation of the complainant”.
“The conduct of the accused person, of not taking any action before any authority, qua the alleged incident against the complainant also clearly belies the sanctity of the article and allegations made by the accused person, which evidently goes on to prove that the said defamatory articles are only a figment of her imagination,” it said.
Under the law, defamation carries a sentence of two-year jail term or fine or both.
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