Mobashar Jawed ‘MJ’ Akbar served as the Minister of State for External Affairs till October 17, 2018. He is a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh and was inducted into Union Council by PM Narendra Modi on July 5, 2016. Akbar is a veteran Indian Journalist and has authored numerous books. Earlier, he served as an MP for the term 1989 to 1991 from Bihar being a spokesperson of Indian National Congress in 1989. He returned to public life in 2014 by joining Bhartiya Janta Party.
The Me Too Movement or #MeToo Movement has spread virally on social media as a hashtag in an attempt to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem of sexual assault and harassment especially in workplace. The movement popularized and encouraged victims to speak for themselves against the assault and harassment faced by them during their lifetime. There are floods of posts from women alleging various high-profile men committing sexual assault and harassment with them.
MJ Akbar, the MoS for External Affairs is one such man who has been accused by around 20 women who were as his subordinate for sexually harassing them when he worked as a journalist. Following the spate of allegations of sexual harassment during his days as editor/ journalist he stepped down from the dignitary position of being the Minister of State for External Affairs on October 17, 2018. The resignation of MJ Akbar is accepted by the Prime Minister and he expressed that he is grateful towards PM Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj for giving him such an opportunity to serve the nation.
The ground for resignation as stated by MJ Akbar is seeking justice in court of law in his personal capacity. He deemed appropriate to step down from office and then challenge the ‘false’ allegations levied against him of sexual assault and harassment by his colleagues.
On October 16’ 2018 MJ Akbar sued Priya Ramani, the first woman who accused the former minister, of sexual harassment thereby maligning his reputation on basis of false, frivolous and scandalous grounds. He stated that, ‘Accusations without evidence have become a viral fever’ under the MeToo Movement. Against this, Akbar has filed a private criminal defamation case against Priya Ramani under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code in Delhi’s Patiala House Court which was heard by the court on October 18, by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal. Senior Counsel Geeta Luthra and Advocate Sandeep Kaur appeared on behalf of Mr. Akbar.
The response received from the defendant, Priya Ramani regarding the suit filed is that she feels vindicated from Akbar’s resignation and further seeks to get justice from court of law.
The Court taking cognizance of the matter has set the next date for the case as 31st of this month. Examination of witnesses and Akbar himself will be held on the next date.
Student Reporter INBA