#MeToo: MJ Akbar files defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani

039;Will form four-member committee of retired judges to conduct public hearings of #MeToo cases,' Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said

Maneka Gandhi Proposes Panel of Retired Judges for Public Hearing of #MeToo Cases

Several union ministers have expressed solidarity with victims of sexual harassment, without mentioning Akbar, but minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi has asked for an investigation against him. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill.

Claiming that he was being framed, Akbar had on Sunday threatened to take legal action against those who have levelled allegations against him.

He cited the testimonies of journalists such as Priya Ramani, Shutapa Paul, Shuma Raha and Ghazala Wahab, who have called him out as part of the #MeToo movement, to claim that even they have admitted that he didn't actually "do" anything to them. As the #MeToo campaign gained momentum, some women journalists accused Akbar of sexually harassing them when he was the editor in newspapers.

The minister has been accused of inappropriate behaviour by female journalists in #MeToo movement.

"What he did was disgusting, he violated my boundaries, betrayed my trust", de Puy Kamp told the news website Huffington Post India.

Congress, India's main opposition party, had already called for Akbar's resignation. She said: "Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, anybody speaking out should in no way be victimised or mocked".

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The last high profile defamation case seen was Union finance minister Arun Jaitley's defamation case (civil and criminal) against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders alleging financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association during his tenure as president of the association.

Akbar, a former journalist, returned from an official trip to Nigeria on Sunday morning and dodged a volley of questions from reporters at the Delhi airport and said he would issue a statement later. "Is there an agenda? You be the judge", he wrote.

Several Indian actresses and writers have taken to social media with allegations of sexual harassment and assault by their superiors and colleagues, mainly at work.

He says Ramani has "resorted to a series of maliciously fabricated allegations, which she is diabolically and viciously spreading using media" and the "false narrative against the Complainant is being circulated in a motivated manner and for the fulfillment of an agenda".

Her Tweets outing Akbar had referenced an open letter published under her name in Vogue India magazine in October 2017, which had not named Akbar but had recounted an experience when she was 23 about her "dear male boss" editor 20 years her senior.

Harinder Baweja, one of the women who has accused Akbar, criticised his response.

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