New Delhi : Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs MJ Akbar on Monday filed a defamation case in Delhi's Patiala House Court against Priya Ramani, the journalist who alleged that Akbar sexually harassed her.
A statement from Akbar's lawyers confirmed that the complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
"That the scandalous allegations leveled by the accused against the complainant herein, by their very tone and tenor, are ex-facie defamatory and have not only damaged the goodwill and reputation of the complainant, in his social circles and on the political stage, established after years of toil and hard work, but have also affected the personal reputation of the complainant in the community, friends, family and colleagues, thereby causing him irreparable loss and tremendous distress," the statement read.
"The accused person, by way of such publications, has caused great humiliation to the complainant and his reputation has been severely tarnished in the eyes of the public as well as his family, friends, colleagues, political fraternity and associates; the defamatory statements of the accused person have, thereby, irreparably damaged the reputation and standing of the complainant," the statement added.
After the recent #MeToo campaign raged in India, at least seven women alleged Akbar of sexually harassing them in the 1990s, when he was working as the editor for various newspapers.
Akbar has been facing flak over the allegations, with opposition parties demanding the minister's resignation. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on Sunday did not indicate any decision to step down and said that he will take a legal recourse in the matter.
In October last year, when the #MeToo campaign peaked in Hollywood, journalist Priya Ramani had written an article for Vogue India, titled, "To the Harvey Weinstein of the world" and narrated her ordeal about the gut-wrenching incident of sexual misconduct she faced during a job interview with a renowned journalist who had "transformed Indian journalism".
Akbar, who on Sunday returned from an official trip to Nigeria, issued a statement, denying all allegations as "wild and baseless."
"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," Akbar's statement read.