Importance Of The #MeToo Movement Can’t Be Contested: Senior Advocate Rebecca John Argues In MJ Akbar’s Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani

first_imgNews UpdatesImportance Of The #MeToo Movement Can’t Be Contested: Senior Advocate Rebecca John Argues In MJ Akbar’s Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani Karan Tripathi8 Sep 2020 8:05 AMShare This – xWhile making her final arguments on behalf of journalist Priya Ramani who’s facing a criminal defamation case for sharing her experience with MJ Akbar, Senior Advocate Rebecca M John categorically stated that the Ramani’s statements were made in the context of the #MeToo movement and the importance of this movement can’t be contested. While addressing the court of…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginWhile making her final arguments on behalf of journalist Priya Ramani who’s facing a criminal defamation case for sharing her experience with MJ Akbar, Senior Advocate Rebecca M John categorically stated that the Ramani’s statements were made in the context of the #MeToo movement and the importance of this movement can’t be contested. While addressing the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja, Ms John submitted that Ramani’s revelations against Akbar can’t be termed as ‘defamatory’ as they are her truth, made in good faith and in public interest. ‘Ramani, while admitting the authorship of the Vogue article and the tweets, had categorically stated that she was inspired by many other women who had come out in public to share their experiences of sexual harassment at workplace’, Ms John argued. Ms John started her arguments by again clarifying that the entire Vogue article – ‘To The Harvey Weinsteins of the World, We Will Get You’ – did not refer to Akbar. ‘The fact that the title of the article uses plural tense shows that it refers to all male bosses and not just Akbar’, Ms John argued. During the course of her arguments today, Ms John attempted to prove how Ramani’s story is adequately corroborated by the statements of her friend Nilofar Venkatraman, how the questions raised by the complainant on the veracity and intention of Ramani’s story are baseless, and how the imputations made by Ramani against Akbar were made in good faith and in public interest. To establish that Nilofar Venkatraman’s evidence is admissible, Ms John invoked section 6 of the Evidence Act which establishes the principle of res gestae by stating that: ‘Facts which, though not in issue, are so connected with a fact in issue as to form part of the same transaction, are relevant, whether they occurred at the same time and place or at different times and places.’ While calling Nilofar Venkatraman a ‘res gestae witness’, Ms John argued that Nilofar had close interactions with Ramani both before and after her incident with Akbar, which makes her evidence relevant for corroborating the statements of Ramani. Coming to the argument of ‘good faith’, Ms John argued that Ramani was not the first person to talk about Akbar’s behaviour. Multiple women, including Ghazala Wahab and Prerna Bhindra, had shared their horrific experience with Akbar much before the publication of Ramani’s article. ‘Ramani posted her tweet in good faith. It was based on her own personal experience and that of multiple women who had publicly shared their experiences of sexual harassment under the #MeToo movement’, Ms John argued. On the issue of ‘why now’, Ms John argued that this insinuation against Ramani is baseless as when the incident had taken place, there was no law on sexual harassment at workplace under which Ramani could’ve sought any remedy. ‘Even section 354 of IPC, which deals with sexual harassment, required presence of overt criminal force to qualify an act as an offence’, Ms John argued. ‘It took Parliament 15 years after the framing of the Vishakha Guidelines to enact a law on sexual harassment at workplace’, Ms John further submitted. To argue that raising a voice against sexual harassment at workplace under the #MeToo movement has to be seen as an act done in public interest, Ms John highlighted that the Supreme Court had recognised the constitutional importance of this issue in the case of Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan. ‘The Supreme Court had recognised the issue of sexual harassment at workplace as a matter of paramount constitutional importance while framing the Vishakha Guidelines… There was an implicit recognition of the #MeToo movement in the judgment of the Supreme Court’, Ms John argued. Therefore, Ms John submitted, raising voice against sexual harassment at workplace under the #MeToo movement has to be seen as an act done in public interest, hence, it cannot qualify as defamation. Ms John will continue with her arguments on September 14. Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more