In another setback to former union miniser M JAkbar, the Editors Guild of India, for which he was earlier president of the top editor’s body, today asked him to withdraw the criminal defamation case he filed against journalist Priya Ramani. It also came out in support of the women journalists who have accused him of sexual harassment and offered legal support to them, in case Akbar does not withdraw the present case or files such cases against other women too.
Interestingly, the Guild’s support for the women came a day after Akbar stepped down as the Minister of State for External Affairs in the face of mounting pressure following allegations of sexual harassment against him by several women journalists.
It also wondered that being a veteran editor Akbar resorted to make use the instrument of criminal defamation against fellow journalists. In a statement, the Guild said it salutes the courage shown by several women journalists in bringing to light instances of how they were sexually harassed.
“The resignation of Mr M. J Akbar from Union council of ministers is a result of these women journalists’ courage to fight for a high principle: gender equality in the newsroom. We hope that Mr Akbar will also display the grace to withdraw the criminal defamation case he has filed against one of these complainants,” it said.
The Guild’s statement comes on a day when a Delhi court commenced hearing on Akbar’s criminal defamation complaint against Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago.