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#MeToo: Journalist Priya Ramani gets bail in defamation case by M J Akbar

A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to journalist Priya Ramani, summoned as an accused in a defamation case filed by former Union Minister M J Akbar after she levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against him when he was a scribe.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal granted her bail on a personal bond of Rs 10,000, with a surety of a like amount. Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Ramani, told the court that her client was entitled to bail as defamation is a bailable offence. Ramani also moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance in the case.

The application was opposed by lawyers appearing for Akbar. The court directed Akbar to file reply on her application before April 10, the next date of hearing.

“My next court date is April 10. It will now be my turn to tell my story. The truth is my defence,” Ramani told the media after the hearing.

The court had earlier directed Ramani to appear before it after noting that the allegations made against Akbar were “prima facie defamatory” and he denied all the accusations as “false and imaginary”.

Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. He has denied the accusations. His name cropped up on the social media as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India last year. Akbar, who resigned from the Union Council of Ministers on October 17, was in Nigeria when his name came up. He has filed a private defamation complaint against Ramani.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra and advocate Sandeep Kapoor, both appearing for Akbar, had earlier told the court that the allegations made in the article in Vogue and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed that the allegations were false and imaginary.

The counsel had submitted that the subsequent publications based on the respondent’s allegations further aggravated defamation. Akbar had told the court in his statement that an “immediate damage” has been caused to him due to the scurrilous, concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct.

Multiple women have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by him while he was working as a journalist. He has termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said that he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

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