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Twitter erutpts as court acquits Priya Ramani in MJ Akbar defamation case

In the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, Ramani had made an allegation of sexual harassment against Akbar

Wednesday February 17, 2021 8:31 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

Priya Ramani vs MJ Akbar

New Delhi: A Delhi Court on Wednesday acquitted Journalist Priya Ramani in a criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar for accusing him of sexual misconduct.

In the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, Ramani had made an allegation of sexual harassment against Akbar.

Pursuant to this, he filed the criminal defamation case against her and resigned as the Union Minister.

The trial began in 2019 and went on for almost two years.

In 2017, Ramani wrote an article for the Vogue where she described her ordeal of being sexually harassed by a former boss during her job interview for his publication. One year later, she revealed that the person alluded to as harasser in article was M.J. Akbar.

Also Read | MJ Akbar sues first journalist who opened floodgate of accusations against him

Akbar told the court that Ramani's allegations were fictitious and cost him his stellar reputation. Priya Ramani, on the other hand, contested these claims, pleaded truth as her defence and said that she made allegations in good faith, public interest, and for public good.

The judgement in the case is important as it sets a precedent for similar cases which arose from the discourse-changing #MeToo movement.

"Shameful"

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey while acquitting Priya Ramani said that it is "shameful" that the incidents of crime and violence against women are happening in a country in which the Mahabharata and Ramayana were written around the theme of respect for women.

In a 91-page order, the court stated, "It is shameful that the incidents of crime and violence against women are happening in the country where mega epics such as 'Mahabharata' and 'Ramayana' were written around the theme of respect for women."

The judge goes on to write that in the Ramayana, the reference of great respect is found, when Prince Laxman was asked to describe Princesses Sita, he answered that he remembers only her feet as he had never looked beyond that.

Also Read | MJ Akbar shoved his 55-yr-old tongue down my 18-yr-old throat, says US scribe #MeToo

"In the Aranaya Kand of Ramcharitmanas...it refers about noble 'Jatayu' when witnessed the crime of abduction of princes 'Sita', he came swiftly to protect princesses and consequently his wings were cut by Ravana," the judgement stated.

Similarly, in Sabha Parv of Mahabharata, the reference is found about the appeal of queen Draupadi for justice to the Kuru Raj Sabha and she questioned the legality of her treatment of being dragged by Duhashana into the dice hall, the court further said.

"The Indian women are capable, pave the way for them to excel, they only require the freedom and equality. The 'glass ceiling' will not prevent the Indian women as a roadblock for their advancement in the society, if equal opportunity and social protection be given to them."

While acquitting Ramani earlier today, the court said that a woman has a right to put her grevience at any platform of her choice and even after decades.

"Truth Prevailed"

"It feels amazing, truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment. Sexual harassment has got the attention it deserves. What an important victory #PriyaRamani", Radhika Bordia (@radhikabordia) wrote on Twitter.

Reacting on the court ruling, Natasha Badhwar (@natashabadhwar), wrote, “This is what it feels like to smash the patriarchy!”

Also Read | People referred to Asian Age Delhi office as MJ Akbar’s harem, More scribes speak up

"Akbar came flanked by tons of cops but hey, #PriyaRamani had her Army of Women. We stood there fearing the worst, but ready for battle. And now, we can all breathe for just a few minutes at least . Thank you Rebecca John for fighting the good fight", senior reporter, Barkha Dutt (@BDUTT) wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, following her acquittal in the defamation case Priya Ramani said that she felt vindicated on behalf of all the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment has got the attention it deserves,” Ramani told reporters outside the chamber in Rouse Avenue Court, minutes after the verdict.

“This matter has been about women, it hasn’t been about me. I happened to represent all the women who spoke up...the women who spoke up before me and the women who spoke up after me", she added.

 

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