New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday asked former Union minister M.J. Akbar and journalist Priya Ramani whether there was a chance of settlement between them in a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against her.
Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist.
Ramani had said the allegations against Akbar, made in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, were her truth and were made in public good.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey posed the query on Saturday as he started hearing afresh the final arguments in the case since the previous judge hearing the matter was transferred to another court on Wednesday.
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Akbar, said she needed time to talk to her client before making a decision on the issue.
The counsel for Ramani, advocate Bhavook Chauhan, said there was less chance of any settlement since the facts of the case were peculiar.
The court asked both the parties to respond on the point of settlement and get back on November 24, the next date of hearing.
The previous judge, ACMM Vishal Pahuja, who presided over a special court in the Rouse Avenue District Court set up to hear cases against parliamentarians and MLAs, was transferred to Karkardooma district court as senior civil judge-cum-rent controller on November 19.
Pahuja had started hearing the final arguments in the case on February 7 this year.
Akbar had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani on October 15, 2018. He resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018.
Akbar had earlier told the court that Ramani had defamed him by calling him adjectives such as ‘media’s biggest predator’ that harmed his reputation.
He has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment by women who came forward during #MeToo campaign against him. Presenting his final arguments in the case, Akbar told judge Pahuja that Ramani did not make defamatory comments about him for the public good but out of vengeance.
Over 20 women came up with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by M.J. Akbar while they were working as journalists under him.
He termed the allegations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.
Akbar’s advocate Geeta Luthra, has claimed that Ramani’s allegations against the politician were “recklessly” made without “without any care or caution”, damaging the reputation of Akbar.
(With inputs from PTI)