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Stating that the case is not "against" any MP or MLA, a Delhi Court which acts as a Special Court for MP/MLAs today opined that MJ Akbar's defamation case against Priya Ramani needs to be transferred. [MJ Abkar v. Priya Ramani]
The Court has been hearing the matter for two years.
Vishal Pahuja, Additional Metropolitan Magistrate, thus sent the defamation case to the District & Sessions Judge for issuance of appropriate directions.
"There has been direction from Supreme Court.. this case has to be placed before the learned District & Sessions Judge for directions..I am listing it for directions before the District & Sessions Judge.", he said today as the parties assembled for further hearing.
Sujata Kohli, District & Sessions Judge-Cum Special Judge (PC Act/CBI) acts as the administrative head of Rouse Avenue Court Complex.
Recently, following the directions issued by the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court had also set set up four more courts in the Rouse Avenue District Court to deal with cases against MPs/MLAs.
Accordingly, to ensure equitable distribution of cases, certain case was transferred from Judge Pahuja to the newly established courts.
MJ Akbar's defamation case, however, did not feature in the transfer list.
In case a direction is passed to transfer the case to a non-Special MP/MLA Court, the proceedings would go back to the stage of final arguments.
In October 2018, MJ Akbar had filed a criminal defamation complaint against journalist, Priya Ramani after she took to twitter to level allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Today, the case was listed for rebuttal by counsel for MJ Akbar.
Appearing for Akbar, Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra has contended that due process was not followed when Ramani made the allegations against MJ Akbar, a man of stellar reputation, on social media. She argued that the nature of the allegations was such that they were pre se defamatory.
In response, Ramani has pleaded truth, good faith, public interest and public good as her defence in the defamation trial.
Appearing for Ramani, Senior Advocate Rebecca John argued that considering the avalanche of disclosures against MJ Akbar, there was no evidence to prove that Akbar had a stellar reputation.
Read the Order: