#MeToo: Editors Guild Asks MJ Akbar To Withdraw Case Against Priya Ramani

Enlarge this image

Enlarge this image

India's delayed #MeToo allegations spilled out on social media after actress Tanushree Dutta revived a decade-old allegation against actor Nana Patekar in television interviews last month.

Twenty female journalists who had worked under Akbar have rallied behind Ramani following Akbar's defamation suit by writing a letter to the court asking it to consider their testimonies.

Sandeep Shastri, a political analyst at Jain University in the city of Bengaluru, said Akbar's defamation lawsuit and then subsequent his resignation could indicate damage limitation by the government.

The defamation case filed two days ago led more women and some men too to come forward in their defence of Ramani and others. The Congress raised questions against the BJP government's lack of action in dealing with the accusations against Akbar even as the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj refused to comment on the allegations.

Her accusation prompted a torrent of allegations against the minister and former newspaper editor, made by women journalists who used to work with him in his newsrooms. Luthra also said that Ramani should prove the allegations that she was tweeting.

MJ Akbar, who is facing multiple sex harassment charges, said: "I deem it is appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity".

MJ Akbar had filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The court has fixed the matter for recording Akbar's statement on October 31.

Akbar, who was the editor of newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Asian Age, is the first significant political leader to be hit by India's #MeToo movement.

The women who have accused Akbar of sexual harassment so far included Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul.

Akbar, however, has denied any wrongdoing and said he was stepping down so he could fight the allegations in court.

The group of ministers will look into the Vishakha Guidelines that listed procedures in cases of sexual harassment at the workplace, and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which replaced them.

The police said on the basis of the complaint, an FIR was lodged under Indian Penal Code sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act meant to insult the modesty of a woman), besides invoking charges under the Information Technology Act.

In a country where patriarchy has deep roots and women are not encouraged to speak out, women activists said Mr Akbar's resignation sent a strong message.

Akbar resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs on Wednesday. Earlier this week HuffPost India shared another account by a woman who was allegedly harassed by Akbar while working with him as a teenage intern.

The hallowed world of Indian cricket has also not been spared, with the chief of India's powerful cricket board, Rahul Johri, on Friday given a week to explain allegations of sexual harassment.

Latest News