Introduction– This case deals an incident that happened in the 1993, way before the Vishakha judgment came. Then, the victim Priya Ramani could not raise her voice against her sexual harassment but did it later in the year 2018 when the #MeToo Movement was at its peak. However, when she did reveal this incident, this case lodged against her for defamation. This case is a remarkable case which sets a reminder to everyone, that a person’s reputation cannot be put above the other person’s life and dignity.
Facts of the case-
1.On October 2018, Priya Ramani accused Union Minister M J Akbar for sexual harassment which had happened in 1993 when she was called for a job interview to Mumbai’s Oberoi Hotel.
2.Then after, M J Akbar resigned as a Union Minister and filed a case of defamation against Priya Ramani contending that his reputation had been severely affected.
3.The contention of defamation, the hearings of the case began.
4.M j Akbar has also under allegation from other women’s for sexual harassment
5.On the 17th February, 2021, the Court finally acquitted Priya Ramani of charges of defamation.
Issues of the case-
Whether a case of sexual abuse could be filed after two years of happening?
Whether there was a case of criminal defamation arises?
The first point is that the complainant contended that due to the tweets by Priya Ramani he had been defamed, Priya Ramani took the defence of truth and good faith. The Complainant M J Akbar contended that his reputation had been severely damaged and therefore, he accused Priya Ramani of criminal defamation.
The second point is, He contended that Priya Ramani took false defence and had produced inadmissible evidence. It was also contended that the incident took place two decades back and Priya Ramani did not even lodge a complaint back then to a legal authority.
Third point, On the question as to why she had revealed this after such a long time, she replied that when that the Vishakha guidelines and then the Sexual Harassment Act came way after the happening. She contended that the revelation of the incident in her article and tweet was done in good faith and for the public good.
The Court held the following observations:
- On the basis of the testimony of the witnesses, the Court accepted that the complainant was not a man of stellar reputation and hence accepted the contention of the accused.
- The Court took into consideration the fact how a redressal mechanism for sexual harassment was not present when the incident took place.
- It was observed by the Court that “most of the women who suffer abuse do not speak up” because of the “shame or guilt attached with the sexual harassment”. The Court held that “the woman cannot be punished to raise their voice under Article 21 and Article 14.
- The Court acquitted Priya Ramani of the charge of criminal defamation and held that a “woman has a right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice and even after decades”.
This case judgement is a mark not to harass someone by the use of their power. By the way of this judgment, the Delhi Court has made it clear that justice is what will always prevail. While this judgment has given encouragement to the many victims of sexual harassment to raise their voice against the abuse, it has also sent a strict message to the abusers that they cannot play with the law to discourage the genuine victims from coming forward and raising their voices against the abuse. If a right of a woman is violated by someone she must stand for the protection of her right in society.