The Delhi High Court today posted for August 11 the appeal filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar against the trial court's acquittal of journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case filed by the former (MJ Akbar v. Priya Ramani).
When the matter was taken up today, Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Akbar, submitted,
"The (trial court) judgment is completely perverse. The judge has not decided matters that have been open after trial."
She went on to contend that though the trial judge had acknowledged that Ramani's statements in her articles were defamatory in nature, she was acquitted in the defamation case filed by Akbar.
Justice Mukta Gupta then called for the entire trial court record of the case, and proceeded to adjourn the matter for a date in August.
At this point, Luthra told the Court that this was a special category matter.
However, Justice Gupta replied,
"There are far more important matters. This is a regular criminal appeal. There is no urgency in this matter."
The Court proceeded to list the matter on August 11.
The criminal defamation case was filed by Akbar after Ramani levelled sexual harassment allegations against him during the #MeToo movement of 2018.
Ramani claimed that in December 1993, MJ Akbar sexually harassed her when she was called to The Oberoi, Mumbai for a job interview.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey had acquitted Ramani after a trial of almost two years on the basis that the possibility that the alleged event was true could not be ruled out.
The Court also accepted Ramani's stand that Akbar was not a man of stellar reputation.
The Court had taken note of systemic abuse at the workplace and highlighted that the Vishaka Guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace put forth by the Supreme Court in 1997 were not in effect at the time of the incident.
"Right of reputation can't be protected at the cost of right to dignity," the Court had said.
It was also stated that a woman had a right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice and even after decades.