20:43 GMT +313 November 2018
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    #MeToo: First Criminal Defamation Complaint Filed in India

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    A day after returning from his official tour in Africa, Indian External Affairs Minister MJ Akbar filed a defamation suit in court against the allegations of sexual harassment leveled on him as part of the raging #MeToo campaign in India against male bosses.

    MJ Akbar had termed allegations against him by female journalists as "false, fabricated and deeply distressing." He followed up his denial with a legal suit today. Akbar was a celebrated editor in India before he entered politics and become a member of the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, and subsequently a cabinet minister. 

    Akbar filed the private criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani, who recently leveled charges of sexual misconduct against him, claiming he'd mistreated her while working as an editor. Several female journalists came forward after Ramani's complaint, also accusing Akbar of sexual harassment.

    In his criminal defamation suit, the Minister of State for External Affairs of India has accused Ramani of "willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously" defaming him and has sought her prosecution under India's law criminalizing defamation.

    READ MORE: Twitter Afire as Rose McGowan Calls #MeToo 'Lie', Then Backtracks on Claim

    "The complainant (Akbar) also had a long career in journalism, he launched India's first weekly political news magazine," the complaint reads, addressing the allegations made by Ramani on social media.

    "While it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfillment of an agenda," the complaint noted.

    Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code states that if found guilty, the accused may be sentenced to two years in jail, fined, or both.

    Several Indian journalists have come out in support of Priya Ramani.

    Indian journalist Suparna Sharma and US-based journalist Majlie de Puy Kamp, who have also accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior, stood by their statements.  

    "I stand by my testimony of the two incidents — one in which he plucked my bra strap, and the other when he stared at my breasts. I also stand by the fact that he did the same with other women in the office. I am disappointed with Akbar's response but I am not surprised. This is going to be a longish battle, and the next step in many cases is a legal step," the Indian Express quoted Suparna Sharma as saying.

    READ MORE: Nike Expresses Concern Over Rape Allegations Against Cristiano Ronaldo

    In the wake of the #Me Too campaign in India, in which several media, sports, film and other female personalities have come forward to narrate their stories of sexual harassment, India's Ministry of Women and Child Development oand the Delhi Commission for Women have set up separate committees to look into the complaints.

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    sexual misconduct, MeToo, defamation, harrassment, MJ Akbar, India
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