Expressing relief after being acquitted by the Delhi court in the criminal defamation case filed by former Union minister MJ Akbar, journalist Priya Ramani thanked her team of lawyers for their support.
Speaking about the impact the judgment will have on the #MeToo movement, Ramani told reporters, “This battle has been about women, hasn’t been about me. I just happen to represent all the women who spoke up, the women who spoke up before me and the ones who spoke up after me. I thought this was a very apt judgment. My victory will definitely encourage more women to speak up and it will also make powerful men think twice before they take victims to court. Don’t forget that I was the accused in this case. I was accused just for speaking up.”
She added, “I thank everyone who stood by me, especially my witnesses who came to court and testified on my behalf. I thank the court for this verdict. I thank my lawyers, Rebecca John and her amazing team…They put their heart and soul into this case.”
Ramani’s lawyer Rebecca John said this was perhaps the most important case she has been involved in. “When you fight powerful people and you have truth on your side, the journey becomes very, very relevant to you personally,” she said.
While acquitting Ramani, the Delhi court observed that even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser. “Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self-confidence,” it said, adding that the “right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of right to dignity”.
Akbar had filed the suit against Ramani on October 15, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago when he was a journalist. In an article in 2017 and in a tweet in 2018, Ramani alleged that Akbar had sexually harassed her during a job interview in 1994. ( Indian Express )