Written by: Upasana Dash
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav
The verdict in Mobasher Jawed Akbar v. Priya Ramani means both a conclusion and a new scope. The releasing motion of 2018, which was given out by women who said their stories and those who trusted them, has long been returned by the predictable awareness that the universe has, by and large, came back to normal. While most of the men summoned have been pardoned, the instant reaction of women who give out their stories has been squashed for the most part. The case possibly, most obviously meant the savage results women must confront in a world that is all too tolerant of reputable men with a record of sexual misconduct.
In an article of Vogue India in 2017, Ramani had elaborated the manners of her former boss, whom she called a “sexual predator”. The article, named “To the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world”, did not disclose her boss’s name. It however, specified an account of this former boss engrossing in improper conduct during a job interview in a hotel room 20 years ago. It was only after a year, in October 2018, that Ramani disclosed his name in a tweet at the height of the #MeToo trend. “I began this because he didn’t do anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator-maybe they’ll share,” her tweet said.
In the next few days, Akbar stepped down from the Union Cabinet, after over 20 women accused him of sexual molestation, assault, and rape, in one case. Akbar reacted by putting forward a criminal defamation case against Ramani. During the trial, Akbar represented by senior advocate Geeta Luthra, asserted that he was stressed by words such as “predator” said by Ramani, and that such wrong claims resulted in irrevocable injury to his reputation.
Ramani, represented by senior advocate Rebecca John, kept that her claims against Akbar were true and that she had revealed her claims against Akbar in “good faith” for the public interest and for the public good. She had added that “no human being accused of sexual harassment can be a person of high reputation.” While Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code says defamation, it also subscribes a suit as a defence, saying; “It is not defamation to stick on anything which is true regarding any person and it is for the public good that the imputation should be made or published.”
The five main objectives of the judgment are as follows:-
• Women cannot be punished for raising their voice against sexual misconduct on the excuse of criminal outcries of defamation. The right to reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right to life and dignity (Article 21).
• Women have the right to express their atrocities on any platform of their choice even after decades.
• Society must understand the result of sexual abuse and harassment on its victim.
• Society should understand an abusive person can be like any other person; he too has family and friends. He can also be well-respected.
• If equal opportunity and social protection are equipped for women, then a “glass ceiling” will not stop Indian women.