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‘I Did Not’, ‘It Is Incorrect’: MJ Akbar’s Deposition In Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani Is A Collection Of Denials

Akbar also gave a repeat performance of his previous cross-examination — he did not "remember".

Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) union minister MJ Akbar was cross-examined on Monday, May 20, in Patiala House Court, New Delhi during the hearing of the defamation case he filed against journalist Priya Ramani.

Ramani had pleaded not guilty in the case initiated by Akbar back in October 2018 under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, where he termed the sexual harassment allegations levelled against him as “false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous”.

During the cross-examination, Akbar reportedly told Ramani’s lawyer Rebecca John, “I did not receive any phone call from the reception by Priya Ramani,” on being asked if he received a phone call from Ramani after she reached the Oberoi Hotel, adding, “It is incorrect that I asked her to come to my room.”

Further, he asserted that he didn’t sing any old Hindi songs and denied asking her any personal questions related to her marital status, Bar and Bench reported.

“I did not meet her on that day, I do not know if she felt unnerved by my behaviour,” Akbar said in the court. “She never came. How can I say whether she went back,” he added. Rebecca John showed Akbar a Vogue article — “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world” — written by the journalist on sexual harassment in 2017. The journalist had later said in a tweet that Akbar was the harasser whom she had not named in the Vogue piece.

Also read: Twenty More Journalists Speak Up Against Akbar, Say They Are Prepared To Testify

In the court, John also showed several tweets and articles written by different women levelling sexual harassment allegations against Akbar. The former minister’s lawyer Geeta Luthra tried to raise objections repeatedly as the cross-questioning continued.

In reference to a Huffington Post report which had mentioned that Akbar apologised to Majlie de Puy Kamp’s father for repeatedly harassing while she was interning at Asian Age in 2007, he confirmed that she was an intern at his office. However, he said that he didn’t read the piece and denied sexual harassment allegations, adding there might have been “mention of some misunderstanding” in an e-mail.

Akbar also said he could not remember that Ramani had asked to be transferred from Delhi to Mumbai, just about ten days after working in his Delhi office.

The court has listed the matter for hearing on July 6 next.

During the previous hearing, Akbar had mentioned that he didn’t remember meeting Ramani at a Mumbai hotel.

Akbar had resigned as Union minister on October 17 last year and had filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after his name cropped up on social media as the #MeToo campaign raged on in India. Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual misconduct, that took place around 20 years ago when he was a young journalist. Besides Ramani, several other journalists have also accused him of sexual harassment. Akbar had also been accused of rape by Pallavi Gogoi.

Also read: ‘I Do Not Remember’: MJ Akbar’s Answer To Most Questions Posed By Priya Ramani’s Lawyer

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