The woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sexual abuse, a Delhi court ruled on Wednesday after acquitting journalist Priya Ramani in connection with a defamation case filed against her.
Former Union minister MJ Akbar had filed the defamation case against journalist Ramani, after she accused him of sexually harassing her in 1994.
No charges were proved against her (Ramani), said additional chief metropolitan magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey said while dismissing the complaint filed by Akbar.
“It’s time for the society to understand that sometimes a victim may not speak up for years due to mental trauma. The woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sexual abuse,” the court observed.
Under Article 21, Ramani “has the right to put out her views on any platform of her choice”, it noted.
I, the victim, was made to stand in court as an accused: Ramani
Following the verdict, Ramani said, “It feels amazing, it truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment at workplace… It was me, the victim, who was made to stand in court as an accused. I thank everyone who stood by me especially my witnesses Ghazala Wahab and Niloufer Venkatraman who came to the court and testified on my behalf. I thank the court for the verdict and I thank my lawyer Rebecca John and the amazing team who believed in me and the wider cause. They put their heart and soul in the case.”
She added that through this verdict the issue of sexual harassment has finally gotten the attention it deserves.
Akbar filed defamation case; resigned as Union minister in 2018
Akbar had filed the case against Ramani in October 2018, citing an article she had written for The Vogue the previous year and a subsequent tweet of October 2018 in which she had alleged that the former editor of Asian Age newspaper had sexually harassed her during a job interview in 1994.
Ramani’s allegations had come at a time when the #MeToo campaign by women across the world speaking up against sexual harassment they had faced had just begun to gain momentum in India. However, soon after the defamation trial began against Ramani, the #MeToo campaign in India gradually began to ebb.
Akbar resigned as Union minister on October 17, 2018.
(With inputs from PTI)