MJ Akbar quits as Minister

Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar tendered his resignation on Wednesday after scores of women levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Akbar on Monday had filed a criminal defamation case against Priya Ramani for accusing him of sexual harassment, prompting a reply from the journalist who said she was ready to fight the case.

He has accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and malaciously” defaming him and has sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation.

“The complainant (Akbar) also had a long career in journalism, he launched India’s first weekly political news magazine…,” the complaint said and listed out defamatory imputations made by Ramani on social media against him.

“Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda,” the complaint said.

It termed as “scandalous” the allegations made by Ramani against Akbar and said “very tone and tenor” are ex-facie defamatory and they have not only damaged his goodwill and reputation in his social circle but also affected Akbar’s reputation in the community and friends, family and colleagues and caused irreparable loss and tremendous distress.

The complaint, filed through advocate Sandeep Kapur, seeks issuance of notice to Ramani under Section 499 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 500 of the IPC provides that an accused may be awarded two years jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.

Akbar, who returned from an official trip to Nigeria on Sunday, has termed the allegations levelled against him by several women as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing” and said he was taking appropriate legal action against them.

Akbar virtually rejected calls for his resignation as MoS External Affairs and sought to link the allegations against him to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Reacting to the defamation case filed against her, Ramani said she wished to register her protest against Akbar’s statement, which “pays no heed to the trauma and fear of survivors”.

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