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18 Dec, 107 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

Hearing begins.

Senior Advocate Rebecca John for Priya Ramani : I'll finish my arguments today.
I've argued on reputation and burden of proof on accused : John
I will deal with three elements. That Akbar has not come with clean hands. I'll answer the objections. And I'll make a final statement: John

John asks the court to see the complaint by @mjakbar
John reads the complaint.
In the entire complaint, Akbar refers to the tweets and articles by Priya Ramani. When a person tries to establish defamation on the basis of sexual harassment allegations, was it not incumbent to make a fair disclosure about the fact that as many as 15 other women: John
These women did not know each other. An individual who a senior editor and a Minister at that time, was there no obligation on him to state that there were other allegations against him, that Priya Ramani was not an isolated incident: John
It seems that apart from Ramani, nobody else had made any allegations against Akbar. By then Ghazala Wahab had written about her experience. At 15 women had spoken up on Twitter: John
While a lot of onus is put on me for being fair.. shouldn't the complainant bear the same responsibility. He should have said that other women have made allegations which are also false: John
Not having mentioned such serious allegations and singling out Priya Ramani, Akbar is guilty of concealing material particulars : John
A litigant must approach the court with clean hands : John
John refers to a judgement.
No doubt it is not a case of complainant concealing previous conviction. But he should have disclosed that he was held guilty of contempt by Delhi High Court : John
You are trying to gain an unfair advantage over the other side. The failure of Mr Akbar in mentioning the allegations by other women, and pretending that only Ramani's statement defamed him.. Mr Akbar has not come to court with clean hands and failed a fraud on the court : John
John begins to deal with the objections raised on her evidence by the complainant side.
I asked questions on Akbar's political career with the Congress party because in his testimony, Akbar speaks of his association with BJP : John

It is my right to ask. The relevance is not as per the complainant: John as she reads Indian Evidence Act on lawful questions
I have right to ask questions to discover who his, shake his credit by injuring his character : John
I have right to ask these questions. These are meaningless objections without any legal basis: John
John moves on to other objections.
When I put up the question pertaining to the incident alleged by Ramani, they object to it as "having denied the meeting".

Then deny it. But I have to ask these questions to prove my truth: John
When I question him on the Vogue article, objections were raised : John

These were not irrelevant questions. These questions have the effect of shaking the structure of the case against me : John
All questions were admissible under the scope of the Indian Evidence Act: John
All my 65B certificates were objected to: John
John refers to a Supreme Court judgement to in support of her Section 65B certificates.

It's a latest judgments by Justice Nariman.. : John reads the judgement.
Latest judgment*
I've fulfilled all conditions laid down in law : John
Section 65B relates to secondary evidence. I actually do not have to give certificate of I'm producing the original record : John
Surpreme Court says that when I'm producing the mobile or the laptop, I need not give the certificate. I showed my phone to the court. But I still filed the certificate out of abundant caution: John
John continues to read the judgement.
I was asked if I had the phone and I showed the message from Nilofer to the presiding judge : John
John finishes reading the judgement.
John shows from the record that the message sent from Nilofer to Ramani was seen by the then judge.
Section 65 B certificate is redundant for this piece of evidence: John
When Nilofer came to court as a defence witness, the message was offered to be shown once again. The phones are stk available today: John
This is proof of the highest order : John
The electronic record was the messages. Phones are in perfect running condition: John
John urges the court to come back to the Supreme Court judgement for a 'slightly different point'.
John refers to directions on saving of CDRs for the duration of the year.
Ramani and Nilofer were asked to produce call records from 1993.. here the Supreme Court is passing the direction on account of CDRs not being available after one year : John
No doubt these directions relate to Internet Providers.. the court may keep this in mind while dealing with their insistence on call records from 1993: John
We will continue after five mins: Court
I'll make a conscience statement now. Section 499 IPC defamation has three ingredients. Publication of imputation intension to harm and reputation of such order : John
Exceptions say that it is not defamation to impute something that is true, made in public good. Third is that it is not defamation to make in good faith, imputation in public good or in interest of any other person: John
I have pleaded exceptions: John
I have admitted to the publication of the tweet and article. I admit to the first ingredient. But I contest the other two : John
The tweets and the article are the truth, in public good and made in good faith. Section 499 IPC is therefore not attracted: John
I have taken a consistent defense. In response to the notice and in cross examination of Akbar's witnesses, my section 313 statement and even I appeared as a witness for myself: John
It was corroborated by Nilofer : John
I have discharged the burden of proof by giving details of incident that took place in 1993 when I was called for an interview in the Oberoi Hotel in Bombay. The interview was conducted in a private room and I make the allegations. I say it is the truth: John
The WhatsApp exchange between Nilofer and me after the tweet but much before the complaint was filed.. Nilofer recollected the incident. Nilofer herself took the stand : John
Both Nilofer and Ramani state.. there is no contradiction at all.. that evening they met at Nilofer's mother's office..and they discussed questions and Nilofer left her at Oberoi at 7 pm. Nilofer is not an eye witness but her evidence is important: John
Immediately before and after the incident they were in communication with each other. The only person that Ramani told the incident to that night. This is what Nilofer remembers when she sees the tweets : John
Nilofer's evidence is relevant under evidence act: John
Opposition to Nilofer's evidence must be overruled: John
There is a deliberate misreading of the Vogue article. Priya Ramani is the author and she on oath has explained the structure of the article: John
The first four para deal with the interview with MJ Akbar. The other para do not. It is corroborated by her tweet in which she says that she began her piece with her MJ Akbar story : John
This is further corroborated by the title of the article- To the Harvey Weinsteins of the World . It is in plural: John
I also explained that portion in inverted commas were extracted from other articles that appeared in America in relation to Harvey Weinstein: John
Much emphasis was laid during arguments on the phrase- he didn't do anything- as of to suggest that nothing happened. It is a strange arguments because I can't be writing both the things together: John
Ramani has explained it. That there was no physical attack. But harasment takes many forms, mental and emotional : John
She explained why she used to word predator. To explain the difference in power and age, between herself and MJ Akbar. There is no contestation about Ramani's truth : John
Exception 1 wrt truth stands proved : John
Public good, good faith and public interest.. incident of sexual harassment touches upon a public question. It can never be held that such disclosure is not for public good, public interest: John
John refers to a judgement delievered by the Delhi High Court yesterday.
John reads the judgement.

Read about the High Court judgement:…
Powerful words from our own High Court: John as she continues to read the judgement.
In this case, the High Court frowned upon the transfer of the complainant. By filing a defamation case against a woman who made allegations, are you not punishing the woman? Would it not have the same chilling effect of other women?: John
Effect on*

It is a matter of great public interest: John
Much is said on Ramani's premature tweet on Akbar's resignation. The tweet is not defamatory. Mr Akbar did resign three days later. The tweet was based in info in public domain. It was an honest mistake: John
They attack her credibility on delay in reporting. POSH, Vishakha judgement, IPC amendment was not in existence in 1993 : John
There was no mechanism in Asian Age to deal with such complaints. Both Ghazala and Ramani have said that they made statements in 2018 because of #MeToo movement. It gave them a safe platform outside the legal platform: John
Ramani hopes that she would spread awareness amongst younger colleagues. Ramani was not the only one who called out her male boss. She was one amongst hundred : John
While assessing the plea of delay, the same be assessed in the background of these factors : John
Ramani was not the first to tweet against Akbar. Several women had tweeted. Ghazala Wahab tweeted two days before. Shunali Khullar shroff and Prerna Singh Bhindra tweeted before her : John
Ramani's articles and tweets and not malafide. Truth is painful.. but you seek to serve the larger purpose. It has not been easy to say all this, it has taken a toll on her. But sometimes, it is cowardly if one does not speak the truth: John
Priya statement is unimpeached and remains consistent: John
Third, I contest reputation. Their case is of stellar reputation: John
There are allegations by 14 women in the document proved by them. Reputation is a fact in issue and I have every right to challenge it : John
I also rely on the ANI responses filed by Mr Akbar and his wife to the Pallavi Gogoi article.
The admission made by Akbar severely dents his reputation: John
The testimony of Ghazala Wahab and her supporting evidence is a challenge to his stellar reputation: John
Priya Ramani and Ghazala Wahab did not work together, were not friends. The incidents were from.. different times: John
There was no pre planned conspiracy on part of Ramani or any other woman. Most of these women did not know each other: John
Mr Akbar's witnesses have said that they have heard only of Ramani's tweets and not the tweets made by others: John
The women who made allegations are professionals of high standing and reputation. There is nothing to suggest falsehood or ulterior motive : John
The third ingredient of reputation stands disproved by defence: John
Akbar himself did not come with clean hands: John
Some women had worse experience than Priya Ramani. Why was Ramani singled out in this manner. This creates a doubt on the credibility of the Complainant: John
My Twitter account is not case property. To suggest so is preposterous and absurd : John
I've violated no court order. People can leave social media at will. That is my fundamental right : John
Court must be guided by the standard of beyond reasonable doubt for complainant.. : John
The test of preponderance of probability vs proof beyond reasonable doubt is what the Supreme Court says. On accused, it is test of preponderance of probability: John
I do not have to prove my case beyond reasonable doubt. Ivey crossed the requirement of test of preponderance of probability: John
The objections raised against my evidence are without any basis : John
They must be overruled: John
The objections to electronic record is also baseless: John
No case of defamation is made out against Priya Ramani. She has proved her case through evidence: John
To say that Ramani and other women have lied for no apparent reason is beyond logic : John
I plead that Priya Ramani be acquitted: John
If the court requires any clarification, I can be asked to come back. I plead that after Complainant side completes, I may be given opportunity to file written submissions: John
Adv Sandeep Kapur for @mjakbar : The court may give us two hours everyday from Monday. We will conclude before the vacation.
Court suggests December 24.

Kapur presses for dates from Monday onwards.
Court suggests December 22 and 24.
December 23 is not possible. There's another case for final argument: Court
2 pm on December 22 and 11 am - 2pm on December 24: Court
Hearing over.

Matter to be heard next on December 22 at 2 pm.

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