Priya Ramani herself said I didn’t do anything: That’s the essence of remarks that MJ Akbar, the former Union Minister facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, made after his return to India this month.He repeated that dismissal of her charges in court today.Akbar has filed a case of criminal defamation against Ramani, a senior journalist who was his first accuser. He was in court to have his statement recorded.Akbar pointed to Ramani’s 2017 Vogue article titled ‘To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world’, and said he was not named when it was published. When Ramani was asked why, Akbar said, she said it was because he’d done nothing.On October 8, Ramani posted this tweet, in which she says, “Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator.”I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator-maybe they’ll share. #ulti https://t.co/5jVU5WHHo7Priya Ramani (@priyaramani) October 8, 2018On October 14, when Akbar posted a statement on the allegations against him, he said, “Ms Priya Ramani began this campiagn a year ago with a magazine article. She did not however name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a tweet: “Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything.””If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story? There is no story. This was admitted at the very inception.”Here’s that statement.pic.twitter.com/z4IL6kf7Q0M.J. Akbar (@mjakbar) October 14, 2018
Today, Akbar said in court that Priya Ramani was clearly advised by Vogue that the inclusion of his name in the article would invite libel.He also said tweets Ramani posted on October 10 and 13 had caused defamation, and that they’d been picked up by the news and social media.READ | As India’s #MeToo skeletons tumble, victims face blame and shameAkbar resigned on October 17, saying “deem[ed] it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity”. Ramani said women everywhere felt vindicated by his departure from the government.”I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court,” she said.The next hearing in the case is on November 12.Inputs from Aneesha MathurWATCH | Will #MeToo movement make workplaces safer?