#MeToo: Taapsee Pannu, Richa Chadha laud Priya Ramani’s acquittal in MJ Akbar defamation case, call it a ‘big step forward’

Journalist Priya Ramani was acquitted in the criminal defamation case filed by former union minister M J Akbar, where he alleged she defamed him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago when he was a journalist.

Film personalities Richa Chadha, Taapsee Pannu, Chinmayi Sripada and Sona Mahapatra on Wednesday celebrated journalist Priya Ramani’s acquittal in the criminal defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar, whom she had accused of sexual harassment. The editor-politician had filed the suit against Ramani on October 15, 2018, for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago, when he was a journalist. With almost 20 women making similar allegations against him, Akbar resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs in 2018.

Noting that a woman has the right to voice her grievance even after decades, the Delhi court Wednesday acquitted Ramani in the case filed.

Actor Taapsee Pannu, one of the strongest feminist voices in Hindi film industry, wrote on Twitter that the verdict came as a beacon of hope for everyone, amid growing despair in the country.

“Amidst all the wrongs and unfair happening around this did bring a ray of hope that somewhere something is keeping our hope in righteousness alive. Long live truth and justice!” Taapsee tweeted.

Director Onir wrote it was ‘spectacular’ that the court observed that women are not time-bound to come out with their accounts of sexual harassment, an argument that has been otherwise used to discredit their stories. “This is spectacular. A milestone judgement when it comes to sexual harassment. Important that the court points out that it’s not time bound . Amazing #PriyaRamani #Rebeccajon.”

Actor Richa Chadha said it was ‘justice at last’.

Singer Sona Mohapatra, who was among the women from the entertainment industry to share their stories of alleged sexual abuse, said that MJ Akbar’s reputation “stinks” and protecting it would have meant a disservice to the country. “Mr MJ Akbar’s reputation is one that stinks. So protecting it would mean harming a whole society & its dignity. This case is one for #India ‘s protection. Not just her women but also all the good people of this country. #ThankYou #PriyaRamani for standing strong. @IndiaMeToo.”

Singer Chinmayi Sripaada, who has accused Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu of sexual harassment, reminded his followers of her allegation while sharing an excerpt from the court’s judgement that said it’s possible for a woman to not open up about sexual abuse for years and she shouldn’t be punished for it.

“To all the Vairamuthu supporters, new and old,” Sripaada tweeted.

Actor Mini Mathur congratulated both Ramani and her lawyer, Rebecca John, while writing that the judgement is a huge step for every woman standing up to powerful men.

“Priya Ramani is acquitted. The fact that she needed to defend her accusations of harassment against a powerful man not withstanding, this is a huge step forward for women speaking up against sexual harassment. Big shoutout to her lawyer Rebecca John as well #justice,” she wrote.

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