NEW DELHI: A lawyer for senior scribe and former Union Minister M.J. Akbar on Friday asked journalist Priya Ramani's friend, who was deposing in the defamation case against her, if she was a "ghost in the room" to remember the scene of an alleged sexual harassment so vividly.
"Were you the third ghost in the room? You must have seen the colour of the vodka," senior advocate Geeta Luthra asked Niloufer Venkatraman, who had narrated the details of the incident when Akbar allegedly sexually misbehaved with Ramani in a Mumbai hotel room.
"The details she described were so bizarre and inappropriate that I have a picture of it in my mind till this day," Venkatraman said.
Narrating the incident, Venkatraman said: "I was at Nariman Point when Priya requested me to meet one hour before the interview, so that I can prepare her for the interview. She came at around 6 (p.m.) and met at Promenade. I asked her current affairs questions which I imagined she could be asked during the interview. A few minutes before 7 p.m., we walked to Oberoi where I dropped her and came back."
"Later that night, Priya called me on my landline. She sounded upset and distraught. I asked her why? She told me that the interview had not gone as we discussed. To begin with, the interview did not happen in the coffee shop or the restaurant but she was called to Akbar's room," Venkatraman said.
She said Ramani "described feeling extremely uncomfortable as he offered her an alcoholic drink and was himself drinking the same. She also described him singing old Hindi songs which was highly unprofessional."
"At one point, she explained that how he patted a portion of the sofa and asked her to sit close to him," she said.
The court was hearing a criminal defamation complaint filed by Akbar against the journalist for accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Following the allegations, the then Minister of State (MoS) for Foreign Affairs had to resign from his post.