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10 Dec, 102 tweets, 11 min read
Hearing in MJ Akbar's criminal defamation case against Priya Ramani to begin before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra K Pandey.

After the transfer of Judge Vishal Pahuja, parties are making arguments afresh.

#MeToo #PriyaRamani #MJAkbar #Metooindia

Senior Advocate Rebecca John begins.

I'll now come to Priya Ramani's cross examination dated 24/10/2019 : John
John reads the cross examination pertaining to Ramani's premature tweet on Akbar's resignation.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on her explanation that only the first four para in the Vogue article referred to Akbar.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on her Twitter account being evidence in the case.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on her statement that Akbar didn't "do" anything was sarcastic.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on her being critical of the current government.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on her "positive tweets" about MJ Akbar.
John continues the cross examination.
John moves on to Ramani's cross examination dated 21/11/2019.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on her entire account with Akbar being false and made up.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on fabricating evidence in her defence.
John reads Ramani's cross examination on having oblique motive.
I want to co relate the essential elements from Ramani's testimony before court : John
Priya Ramani is a woman who has worked at top editorial positions.. she is internationally recognised. Ramani's reputation is as sterling as Akbar. She has occupied high position in journalism. Her statement should be viewed in context on her reputation: John
She has given these statements on oath. She said he worshiped Mr Akbar's work growing up. There was no long term animosity between them : John
She came back from USA on 13/11/1993. When she learnt that Asian Age was going to launch, she hoped that she would find a job: John
She meets Akbar at Asian Age office and is asked by him to come to his hotel in the evening: John
This is Priya Ramani's truth. What happened with her in December 1993 is narrated by her in her own words : John
Truth is the exception that she has pleaded: John
She expected the interview to be in a coffees shop but instead she was called to Akbar's room. She was young. She didn't know how to say no: John
This is what she wrote in the first four para of Vogue article: John
She reiterated the story here as well. There is no inconsistency. The way she left unsafe, threatened. A clear episode of sexual harassment at workplace is borne out from an honest, coherent testimony of Priya Ramani: John
She explains that the Vogue editor had asked Ramani to write an article for Indian readers in the context of Harvey Weinstein. She says on oath that the first four para are her experience. The remaining portion is on other male bosses: John
Phrases in inverted commas are from other articles. It is an unnecessary controversy. The writer is telling the structure of the article: John
Ramani is an honest witness. Had the entire article been about Akbar, she would have said so. But she said that she began her article with her MJ Akbar story : John
There is no ambiguity: John
John urges the court to see the Vogue article.
John reads the article, says there is a break in the article after para four.

In the first four para there is a direct conversation.. after that it is general. She starts talking generally. There is a clear distinction: John
John reiterates that the phrases in quotes are from other articles.
There are very few accused who without any contestation will admit three tweets and an article. We came forward and said that yes these are by us. All we're saying is that the entire article was not about Akbar : John
The complainant is misleading the court : John
Moving beyond Vogue,. they said my tweet dated 8/10/2018 was the one that opened the floodgates. I say that even before me, young journalists had come out against Akbar. I was not the first one: John
Some made allegations against others, 2-3 said about Akbar: John
These were senior journalists occupying senior positions. Allegations that I was the first deserves to be thrown out : John
John reads Ramani's explanation on her saying that Akbar didn't do anything.
My tweet was to highlight that we normalise sexual harassment and unless there is a physical assault, we don't take it seriously: John reads
John reads Ramani's statement.

A predator is always more powerful than his prey : John

She has explained her tweet and contextualised it : John
There is nothing excessive or defamatory about it. Speaking the truth is not defamatory: John
John reiterates how Priya Ramani and Nilofer met before the interview with Akbar and Ramani called her after the interview.
Nilofer sent her a message in context of what had happened 20 years ago. Nilofer's message to Ramani was seen by the previous judge on her phone : John
This message by Nilofer corroborates my truth: John
John shows the court the whatsapp messaged dated 8/10/2018.

This message was sent much before the complaint was filed on 18/10/2018. I had not dreamt that Akbar would file a case against me out of all the women who had made allegations against him : John
John reads the message.
It was a spontaneous message. There can be no shadow of doubt that what Ramani said was true: John
When Priya spoke of the incident of 1993, the same day Nilofer, who was with her date her, sent her a message expressing her solidarity. That day, Akbar was not even in India. Women were bravely using #MeToo platform to call our male bosses : John
The incident had such an impact on Ramani that Nilofer remembered it even after 25 years. Sexual harassment at workplace has to be of public importance: John
Nilofer also took the stand and proved the message on her phone: Jobn
John reiterates that as many as 20 women came out in Ramani's support and said that they were willing to testify.
I'll quickly make some comments on their cross examination. One of the areas of their questioning was that the allegation was not made before anytime before 2018 in spite of several laws on sexual harassment: John
Secondly, their focus was on my tweet on premature resignation of Akbar and there was no corrigendum: John
Akbar resigned after three days. Her tweet was on the basis of a FirstPost article and she said it was an honest mistake: John
They said I should have exercised due care and caution and I didn't do so. Mr Akbar didn't even remember that he was a contemnor. Due care and caution is for both sides. It anyway doens't change the defamation case : John
They objected to the deactivation of my Twitter account. They said it was a case property. I'm not the prosecution. My Twitter account can't be case property. Which order did I violate. There was no obligation on me : John
It is a voluntary participation.. I'm not on Twitter but I'm on Facebook. If I want to leave it tomorrow, I can : John
Whatever evidence you wanted, you should have taken before. It's not problem. There was no application from your side to preserve the account. It's my Twitter account. I have every right to defend me under Art 20 of the Constitution: John
My Twitter account is not case property and I've not been obliged to preserve it by any order. Just because you want to cross examine me, you should have thought about it earlier. Your case is three tweets and one article and these I've admitted: Joh.
Their argument is incoherent and cannot stand the test of judicial scrutiny: John
They said Nilofer and conspired to create evidence in defence. I can refute it by saying that Nilofer and Ramani have made a statement on oath. Complaint was filed after 8 days. The context has been explained: John
The message was spontaneous and is corroborated in nature: John
The complainant side has shown great anxiety on not touching the incident of the hotel room. They didn't ask anything: John
They said everything but didn't say anything about the incident. There is a very strange anxiety to not touch it: John
They didn't ask which room, which floor, what was the color of the bedsheet or that Mr Akbar was not even in Bombay. The court can determine that they ar shying away: John
John begins to read Nilofer's statement.

This is a sterling witness: John
John continues to read Nilofer's statement.
John reads Nilofer's cross examination.
Essentially the same kind of cross examination .. that we conspired to send the message to preempt any legal action. They say that Nilofer's statement is hearsay: John
In this country, nobody can produce call records from 1993. Even MTNL won't have it. This objection is neither here nor there: John
John says Nilofer's statement is admissible under section 6 of Evidence Act.
Res Gestae is an exception to rule of hearsay: John
I gave two judgements from Delhi HC and Surpreme Court to prove that Nilofer's statement was admissible: John
John reads a judgement.
John reads a judgement by Justice Mukta Gupta, Delhi HC.
If something has been said or heard immediately prior or after an incident, that evidence is relevant and admissible as res Gestae rule : John
It is not doubt true that Nilofer was not present in the room. But she was present till Ramani entered the hotel and she was the person Ramani called her that night and confided in her. The entire evidence of Nilofer is admissible: John
By virtue of production of phones and messages by Ramani and Nilofer, it is further corroboration. Nilofer is speaking the truth: John
It is unbelievable and without any merit to say that the message was sent to create any defence : John
Truth, made in good faith has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Although the onus on me is only preponderance of probability: John
Exception one stands proved: John
Priya Ramani's tweets and her article are the truth. She has taken the stand, spoken on oath. Nothing had been done to shake her credibility: John
Clean, credible believable defence: John
Truth has been corroborated by Nilofer and the WhatsApp message: John
There has been a deliberate and mischievous misreading of the Vogue article. Priya Ramani has explained the context. Only the first four para relate to Akbar, not the whole article: John
Ramani is a credible witness, journalist of reputation who is not trying to waste the time of the court : John
Her credibility stands established beyond a shadow of doubt : John
There has been no recklessness in the manner that she told her story. She's not the only one who came out with her story: John
Akbar was in a consensual relationship with a woman 20 years younger when he was married: John
Ghazala Wahab's testimony leaves no doubt that none of these stories were untrue: John
Please take the Indian Penal code: John
John asks court to see Sections 354, 353A IPC
Section 354A was inserted by amendment act of 2013 on 2/3/2013. The questions asked of my cleint that there were provisions in IPC that she could have invoked are not sustainable. In 1993, there were no provisions that Ramani could have invoked: John
Vishakha came in 1997 and there was non compliance: John
John reads a decision concerning the absence of internal complaints committee at Supreme Court and other courts.
Although the Supreme Court passed the Vishakha guidelines, they themselves were not compliant. The compliance came only after the act was passed: John
I have pleaded public interest. Sexual harassment at workplace is a matter of public interest: John
John reads the Vishakha judgement.
John refers to another judgement.

There was no redressal mechanism in 1993-94. This (case laws) is to further my exception of public interest: John
I have spoken by truth, I've said it in good faith and my truth refers to a question of good faith: John
I'll need one more date after 14 Dec: John
Hearing adjourned.

Matter to be heard next on December 14 at 11 am.
MJ Akbar v. Priya Ramani: Final arguments continue [Live from Rouse Avenue Court]

@mjakbar #priyaramani @IndiaMeToo #metoo…

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