The Delhi High Court on Wednesday (April 5) observed that “there are far more important matters” and adjourned an appeal filed by former Union minister M J Akbar against a trial court order acquitting journalist Priya Ramani in a defamation case he had slapped on her for accusing him of sexual harassment.
Justice Mukta Gupta said, “This is not special category matter. There are far more important matters… There is no urgency.” Justice Gupta adjourned the case to August 11.
During the brief hearing, Akbar’s lawyer said the trial court judgement was “perverse”. Akbar had challenged the trial court’s February 17 order acquitting Ramani in the defamation case on the grounds that a woman has the right to put grievances before any platform of her choice even after decades. And, that a man of social status can be a sexual harasser.
Akbar had filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani in October 2018, accusing her of damaging his reputation by way of tweets and articles published in print media and online. At the height of the MeToo movement in 2017 triggered by several women in Hollywood who came out to complain about sexual harassment by producer Harvey Weinstein, Ramani too identified Akbar as the editor who had misbehaved with her in a hotel room.
Akbar, who was the Union minister of state at that time was forced to resign after many more women stepped forward to complain about how he had misbehaved with them.
After she was acquitted by the court in February, Ramani had said that she felt vindicated on the behalf of all the women who had ever spoken out against sexual harassment. “Sexual harassment has got the attention it deserves,” she had said.