M.J. Akbar. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Oct 22 : A Delhi court on Thursday sent the defamation case filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani for her tweets accusing him of sexual harassment back to the same court for MP-MLA cases which was hearing it from the last two years.

Principal District and Sessions Judge Sujata Kohli has decided that the case will continue before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja. The next date of hearing is November 2, on which Akbar's counsel will make rebuttal to Ramani's final arguments.

On October 13, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate had sought transfer of the matter to another court on the ground that his court was only designated to hear cases filed against MPs or MLAs. Since the case was not filed against any lawmakers, the judge said that it needs to be transferred to a competent court of jurisdiction.

Taking up the matter the next day, the Principal District and Sessions Judge had noted that the entire trial could get vitiated if it is found that the magisterial court trying the criminal defamation case for two years did not have jurisdiction. She had then reserved the order on its transfer till Thursday.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018, Ramani had accused Akbar of sexual harassment during his previous role as newspaper editor 20 years ago. Pursuant to her accusation, several former colleagues of Akbar came out with different allegations against him.

Akbar resigned as Union Minister thereafter and filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani, asserting that her allegations were "false" and that it had cost him his stellar reputation.

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