NEW DELHI (PTI) — Journalist Priya Ramani on Saturday told a Delhi court that through her tweet, which former Union Minister MJ Akbar has termed “defamatory”, she was trying to highlight his “sexually-coloured behaviour” that she faced in 1993 from him.
Ms Ramani made the submission while deposing as a witness in her defence in the criminal defamation complaint filed by MJ Akbar against her.
“Seeing all these women (who accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment), I felt compelled to speak up about my experience with MJ Akbar in 1993 and so I removed the anonymity that I had given to Akbar in my Vogue article and named him as the editor who had sexually harassed me,” Ms Ramani said in court.
“I said I never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. I used inverted commas to denote sarcasm. Sexual harassment can take any form. It can be physical or verbal. By saying that he didn’t “do” anything, I was honestly disclosing that there was no overt act but that didn’t excuse Mr Akbar’s sexually-coloured behaviour,” she added.
She said she used the word “predator” in her personal experience with MJ Akbar and shared experiences with many other women.
“I used the word “predator” to emphasize and highlight the difference in age, influence and power between MJ Akbar and myself. I was a young journalist, he was a famous editor, 20 years older than me, who called me to his bedroom in a hotel for a job interview. A predator is more powerful than his prey,” she said.
The court will further hear the matter on September 9. Ms Ramani worked at the Asian Age from January to October 1994.
She had accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. He has denied the accusations.
MJ Akbar had earlier told the court that the allegations made in the Vogue article and the subsequent tweets were defamatory on the face of it as the complainant had deposed them to be false and imaginary and that an “immediate damage” was caused to him due to the “false” allegations by Ms Ramani.
Several women have come out with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by him while they were working under him as journalists.
MJ Akbar has termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.