#MeToo: Cross-examination of M J Akbar’s witnesses concludes in defamation case

New Delhi: The cross-examination of witnesses appearing in support of former Union minister M J Akbar in his criminal defamation case against scribe Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo campaign, concluded before a Delhi court on Friday. Two witnesses — Joyeeta Basu, a journalist, and Manzar Ali, Akbar’s personal assistant — appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal for cross-examination on Friday.

M J Akbar

The court will now take up the matter on August 23 for further proceedings. Akbar, who resigned as Union minister on October 17 last year, filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after his name cropped up on social media as the #MeToo campaign raged in India.

Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist, a charge denied by him. Akbar had earlier told the court that the allegations made by Ramani in an article she wrote for Vogue magazine in 2017 and her subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed them to be false and imaginary.

He had told the court in his statement that an “immediate damage” had been caused to him due to the scurrilous, concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct. Multiple women have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar while he was working as a journalist.

Akbar had termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.