Journalist Priya Ramani, who got acquitted in a criminal defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar on Wednesday, said that she feels relieved seeing her truth being justified by the court of law. “I am feeling amazing, to have my truth vindicated in a court of law is really something,” Priya told ANI after the verdict.
The statements came after a Delhi court ruled in favour of Ramani on a defamation case filed by her former boss and former union minister MJ Akbar in response to sexual misconduct allegations.
The controversy started when Ramani in 2017 accused a former boss of sexual harassment in an article written for the Vogue. The write-up, however, had no mention of Akbar.
“Everyone said you had transformed Indian journalism and I wanted to be on your team. So, we set a time you could interview me at the plush south Mumbai hotel where you always stayed," she wrote, adding that the interviewer's inappropriate behaviour made her feel uncomfortable throughout the interview.
“It was more date, less interview. You offered me a drink from the mini bar (I refused, you drank vodka), we sat on a small table for two that overlooked the Queen's Necklace (how romantic!) and you sang me old Hindi songs after inquiring after my musical preferences. You thought you were irresistible. The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you. I'm fine, I replied with a strained smile. I escaped that night, you hired me, I worked for you for many months even though I swore I would never be in a room alone with you again," she wrote.
It was in 2018, when Ramani in the wake of #MeToo movement in India, took to social media to allege that former boss that she was referring to was MJ Akbar. The allegations dated back to the time when the minister was an editor at The Asian Age, a newspaper Ramani worked for nearly 10 months in 1994.
Ramani's allegation, which was followed by several women who accused Akbar of similar misconduct, forced Akbar to resign from the Union Cabinet.
Two months after his resignation as a minister, Akbar was also suspended from the Editors Guild of India.
Akbar then filed a criminal defamation case in response to the social media post by Ramani, stating that the article and the subsequent tweet about him damaged his “sterling reputation”.
The defamation trial against Ramani began in 2019 at the Rouse Avenue Court.