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MJ Akbar's reputation 'destroyed', 'damaged irreparably': Ex-Union Minister's former colleague

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 13 November 2018, 12:23 AM
Former Union Minister MJ Akbar.
Former Union Minister MJ Akbar.

Joyeeta Basu, the editor of Sunday Guardian and former woman colleague of ex-Union Minister MJ Akbar who has filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, told a Delhi court on Monday that his reputation has been "destroyed" and "damaged irreparably" due to allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Basu told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal that Ramani posted all her tweets "intentionally with a purpose to harm" Akbar's "reputation and goodwill".

"I have seen tweets by Priya Ramani dated October 10, 2018 and October 13, 2018. I have overcome by doubts but I know from the number of questions raised by people, I know personally that his reputation has been destroyed and damaged irreparably," Basu told the court.

 "After reading these tweets by Ramani, I believe that this vilification was conducted and the tweets were published intentionally by Ramani with a purpose to harm Akbar's good reputation and goodwill in the eyes of society," she said.

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Ramani has accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago. Ramani, formerly worked with India Today, The Indian Express and Mint, had first shared her account a year ago when the #MeToo campaign exploded in the US with the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Ramani, however, had not named Akbar when she wrote in the Vogue India article in October last year. On October 8, Ramani shared the article tweeting: “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.”

"I have seen tweets by Priya Ramani dated October 10, 2018 and October 13, 2018. I have overcome by doubts but I know from the number of questions raised by people, I know personally that his reputation has been destroyed and damaged irreparably," Basu told the court.

"After reading these tweets by Ramani, I believe that this vilification was conducted and the tweets were published intentionally by Ramani with a purpose to harm Akbar's good reputation and goodwill in the eyes of society," she said.

Basu, who has claimed to have worked with Akbar for 20 years, said she didn’t hear anything "untoward" from the staff of the organisation where they worked together.

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"I have always held Mr Akbar in high regard. He has been perfectly professional in his dealings with me. He has always been a tough taskmaster, a thorough professional and a brilliant teacher," Basu said.

Basu said she was "shocked, disappointed, embarrassed" to see Ramani's tweets against Akbar and "in spite of my experience with him, his image, his reputation took a beating in my eyes on reading these tweet/article.

"It was aggravated during my interaction with friends and colleagues who had read and heard about the widely publicised tweets and articles and asked me whether he was really like that? They questioned his character and said that his image has taken a severe beating and had been lowered in their eyes. They said that his reputation had been permanently damaged as far as they were concerned," she said.

 The court has now posted the matter for next hearing on December 7.

On October 17, Akbar resigned from the Union Council of Ministers after coming under immense public pressure. He had earlier told the court that an "immediate damage" has been caused to him due to the "scurrilous", concocted and false allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him.

Responding to Ramani’s allegation, Akbar had earlier said in a statement: “Ms Priya Ramani began this campaign 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. But a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened.  Some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything.”

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Monday, November 12, 2018 04:54 PM
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