Delhi court to record Akbar's statement on Oct 31

New Delhi, Oct 18 A court here on Thursday admitted a criminal defamation suit filed by former Minister M.J. Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani and said it will record the BJP leader's statement on October 31.

"I take cognisance of the offence under section 500 (punishment for defamation) Indian Penal Code (IPC)," Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal said.

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The court's observation came after hearing submissions of Akbar's counsel Geeta Luthra, who urged the court to consider the defamation suit and proceed against the woman journalist.

After taking cognisance of the defamation suit, the court listed the matter for October 31 when the statements of the plaintiff and his witnesses would be recorded.

Akbar has listed names of two senior woman journalists -- The Sunday Guardian's Editor Joyeeta Basu and journalist Veenu Sandal -- and four others as his witnesses to prove his defamation charges against Ramani.

Ramani was the first in a long list of female journalists to have accused Akbar of sexual harassment.

Akbar, through his counsel, told the court that Ramani's defamatory statements had damaged his image, lowering his esteem in the eyes of the public.

Luthra told the court that Ramani's controversial tweets and similar social media posts had caused irreparable loss to his reputation built over 40 years.

"Articles in international and national media quoted these defamatory tweets which were defamatory unless Ramani proves anything against Akbar," the counsel said.

Akbar, a Rajya Sabha member, is facing a long string of sexual harassment accusations from women journalists who worked with him at several publications that he edited at various stages of his journalistic career.

Akbar has denied the charges as "false, wild and baseless".

Akbar, in his plaint, said that it was apparent that the false narrative against him was being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfilment of an agenda.

He resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs on Wednesday and said he would fight the legal battle in his personal capacity.

Ramani said she was ready to fight the defamation charges brought against her, as "truth and the absolute truth is my only defence".