Indian Court Rejects M.J. Akbar’s Defamation Claim in #MeToo Case

A year later, in October 2018, as the #MeToo movement swept Indian social media, Ms. Ramani tweeted a link to the Vogue article. This time, she identified Mr. Akbar, then a junior foreign minister in Mr. Modi’s cabinet.

“Lots of women have worse stories about this predator,” she wrote. “Maybe they’ll share.”

Within days, other journalists came forward with accusations ranging from harassment to rape by Mr. Akbar during his tenure as a senior editor with various Indian publications. By the end of the month, 20 additional women, mostly young women starting their careers in journalism, had published their accusations. They said, in the letter and elsewhere, that Mr. Akbar had used his position as a senior editor to harass and intimidate them.

Mr. Akbar resigned but filed his defamation suit against Ms. Ramani the next day. Ms. Ramani has since deactivated her Twitter account. Mr. Akbar has said the deactivation amounted to evidence tampering.

Mr. Akbar has not filed cases against any of the other women. He declined an interview request, referring questions to his lawyer, Sandeep Kapur. Mr. Kapur did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

“We respectfully disagree with the decision,” Niharika Karanjawala, another member of Mr. Akbar’s legal team, said on Thursday, adding that Mr. Akbar intended to file an appeal.

In a court hearing in September, Ms. Ramani’s legal team said her accusations did not amount to defamation because they were true and in the public interest.

“When you fight powerful people, you only have truth on your side, so it becomes very relevant to you personally,” said her lawyer, Rebecca John. “This was probably the most important case of my career.”

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