NEW DELHI: A court on Friday recorded the statements of two witnesses in support of a defamation case filed by journalist and politician M J Akbar against his former colleague Priya Ramani, who had levelled allegations of sexual misconduct.
Defending Akbar, his former colleagues Sunil Gujral and Veenu Sandal deposed as witnesses before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal and said the allegations came as a shock to them and did irreparable damage to his reputation.
Gujral, a businessman, appeared as a witness for Akbar and said he never heard any whisper regarding misconduct or misbehaviour of any kind against him. "I spoke to Akbar thereafter as I felt embarrassed and let down. Besides this, my embarrassment was compounded as friends and acquaintances who knew of all my association with Akbar of almost 40 years started asking embarrassing questions, which made me feel very bad since I felt that irreparable damage has been done to Akbar's reputation in my estimation as well as in estimation of my friend circle and acquaintances," the businessman, who knows Akbar since 1979-80, testified.
Akbar, who resigned as Union minister on October 17, had filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ramani after his name cropped up on the social media when he was in Nigeria.
During the height of the #MeToo campaign, Ramani accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago, a charge which was denied by him.
Sandal, a journalist who said she knows Akbar for over 20 years, added that there was a lot of talk about this at that time. During discussions with friends and at other public places, it was embarrassing to be asked questions about Akbar as the people knew of her association with him, she added.
The court has slated the further hearing for January 11.