- Apprentice Lawyer
This is not a sexual harassment case, asserted Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra before a Delhi court on behalf of former Union minister MJ Akbar in the defamation case filed by Akbar against by journalist Priya Ramani on Tuesday.
Luthra argued that the only issue for consideration before the Court was the damage to MJ Akbar's reputation by Priya Ramani's tweets made in 2018.
"They talk of sacrifices.. it's easy to speak. It's a defamation case by me and not a sexual harassment case by her," Luthra argued.
Clarifying that it was not Akbar who was in the dock, Luthra stated that it was for Ramani to prove her defence through unblemished evidence.
"By calling it "my truth", it doesn't become the truth..This (Ramani) is the person who has no regard for truth or veracity," Luthra remarked.
Luthra was arguing before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey, Rouse Avenue Court Complex, Delhi.
During the course of her rejoinder submissions, Luthra contended that the absence of criminal action against other women who made sexual harassment allegations could not be a legal defence in the present proceedings.
She pointed out that none of the women named by Ramani, including her own witness Ghazala Wahab, had filed a criminal complaint against MJ Akbar for sexual harassment.
Further, taking strong exception to Ramani's contention that Akbar had played fraud on the court, Luthra remarked,
"They used words like "fraud". This can be another defamation case..I'm a respectable person. That's how I became a member of Parliament."
Rebutting the claim that Akbar had no reputation, Luthra pointed out that Ramani had herself referred to Akbar as her "professional hero".
"On what basis are they saying that Akbar had no reputation. That word contains everything. A person's unblemished name makes them a professional hero..reputation like mine is earned by years of hard work."
Luthra reiterated that Ramani's claim that only a portion of her Vogue article referred to Akbar was only an afterthought.
"She says 'dear male boss'. There is no bifurcation to say this is to x and that is to y. She names him in 2018 for reasons where I can't see any good faith or bonafide ..You can't do eenie meenie miney mo and say this portion is on him and this is not. This is not how the article reads."
Stating that journalistic freedoms also brought with it journalistic responsibility, Luthra submitted that Ramani should have come to court instead of making allegations on social media.
The matter would be heard next on December 24.