Women Journos Panel Writes To President, PM Seeking MJ Akbar’s Sacking

Cheryl Sanders
October 20, 2018

Journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar has resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs over allegations of sexual harassment levelled by several women as part of the MeToo movement.

Up until now, 15 women, besides Priya Ramani, have accused Union Minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment and in some cases, sexual assault.

"We hope that Mr Akbar will also display the grace to withdraw the criminal defamation case he has filed against one of these complainants".

"Since I have made a decision to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations against me", MJ Akbar, a former newspaper editor, said in a statement on Wednesday.

President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignation of M J Akbar from the Union council of ministers on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

Through his counsel, MJ Akbar said that Priya Ramani's defamatory statements had damaged his image, lowering his esteem in the eyes of the public.

The tweet by Ramani that Luthra referred to said: "I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story".

Meanwhile, the Editor's Guild of India, in a statement, backed the "courage" shown by the women journalists and saluted their fight for bringing gender equality in newsrooms.

MJ Akbar said in a statement that he would "seek justice in a court of law" in a "personal capacity". She named Mr Akbar only in a tweet early this month. The Guild came out in support of the women journalists who accused him of sexual harassment.

While the Congress demanded his resignation and removal, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders kept a studied silence.

Akbar had been facing flak over allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women, with opposition parties also mounting attack on the government and demanding his ouster.

The spark for India's #MeToo movement was lit by Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta, who named actor Nana Patekar for sexually harassing her during a film shoot.

"This was long overdue and it was important that Mr Akbar took moral responsibility for his actions and stepped down from his post. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment", the journalists said in the joint statement.

Luthra, in specific, pointed out three tweets of Ramani dated October, 8, 10 and 12, and argued how they "lowered his reputation".

Other reports by iNewsToday