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#MeToo: Priya Ramani acquitted of defaming MJ Akbar | India News

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NEW DELHI: A person’s right to reputation cannot be protected at the cost of dignity, a Delhi court said on Wednesday, as it acquitted journalist Priya Ramani of the charge of defaming former Union Minister MJ Akbar, whom accused of sexual harassment.
In a verdict that arose out of litigation related to the Me Too movement, the court said that “a woman cannot be punished for raising (her) voice against sexual abuse under the pretext of a criminal defamation complaint, as the right reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right to life and the dignity of women guaranteed in the Constitution ”.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RK Pandey accepted Ramani’s statement that Akbar “is not a man of stellar reputation” while believing her testimony that she was sexually harassed by him in a hotel in 1993, a meeting that Akbar claimed was it had never happened.
The woman has the right to put her grievance on any platform of her choice and even after decades. It is shameful that incidents of crime and violence against women are occurring in the country where mega epics such as’ Mahabarata ‘and’Ramayana“They were written around the issue of respect for women,” observed Metropolitan Additional Chief Magistrate RK Pandey, dismissing the criminal defamation complaint filed by Akbar, who had also questioned Ramani’s delay in leveling these accusations.
The court said that it cannot be ignored that most of the time, the crime of sexual harassment and sexual abuse is committed behind closed doors or in private.
Ramani had made accusations of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of the global “MeToo” movement in 2018, after which Akbar filed the complaint on October 15, 2018, accusing her of defamation by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago when he was a journalist. He resigned as Union Minister on October 17, 2018 and denied all allegations of sexual harassment against women that came out against him. Ramani said there was a lot of anxiety, stress and fear when a powerful man took her to court. “My reputation is so much better than his and everyone believed me,” she said, adding that she felt vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment in the workplace. “It was I, the victim, who had to appear in court as a defendant. I thank everyone who supported me, especially my witness Ghazala Wahab, ”he said. In its 91-page verdict, the court noted that “despite how respected some people are in society, in their personal lives they can display extreme cruelty towards women.” Akbar had previously told the court that Ramani’s accusations were fictitious and cost her her stellar reputation, but Ramani responded to these claims, arguing that she made allegations in good faith and public interest, and for the public good.

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