In the matter of Mobashar Jawed Akbar v. Priya Ramani, the Court of Shri Ravindra Kumar Pandey, Rouse Avenue District Courts, New Delhi on 17th February 2021 acquitted the accused (Priya Ramani) and viewed that “The time has come for our society to understand the sexual abuse and sexual-harassment and its implications on victims”
It is alleged that complainant (Mobashar Jawed Akbar) moved the present complaint to prosecute the accused for defaming and damaging complainant’s reputation by way of tweets, articles etc. published as well as distributed at her behest, in the print media as well as on the on-line platform such as Vogue Magazine, twitter, First post etc.
It is averred by the complainant that accused herself admitted that complainant did not ‘do’ anything to her and despite that she had intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious imputations to harm the reputation of complainant. It is further averred that her conduct of not taking any action before any authority, with respect to the alleged incident against the complainant also clearly belies the sanctity of the article and allegation made by her, which evidently goes on to prove that those defamatory articles were only figment of her imagination and were only intended to malign the reputation of complainant.
Accused took the defence that publication of article and tweet were made for public good regarding the true incident of her sexual-harassment when complainant called the accused for an interview in his bed room of the hotel and sexually harassed her. Accused also took the defence that she made publication in good faith for protection for other women’s interest in general regarding sexual-harassment at workplace. Accused contended that her publication covered under the exception 1, 3 and 9 of the Section 499 of IPC.
The Court held that: –
- It cannot be ignored that most of the time, the offence of sexual-harassment and sexual abuse committed in the close doors or privately. Sometimes the victims herself does not understand what is happening to them or what is happening to them is wrong.
- The Court took consideration of the systematic abuse at the workplace due to lack of the mechanism to redress the grievance of sexual- harassment at the time of the incident of sexual-harassment against the accused Priya Ramani and witness Ghazala Wahab prior to the issuance of Vishaka Guidelines by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and enactment of The Sexual-Harassment of women at workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, (POSH Act) or their option to not lodge the complaint of sexual-harassment due to the social stigma attached with the sexual-harassment of women.
- The time has come for our society to understand the sexual abuse and sexual-harassment and its implications on victims. The society should understand that an abusive person is just like rest of the other person and he too has family and friends.
- The victims of the sexual-abuse not even speak a word about abuse for many years because sometimes she herself have no idea that she is a victim of abuse. Most of the women who suffer abuse do not speak up about it or against it for simple reason ” The Shame” or the social stigma attached with the sexual-harassment and abuse. The sexual abuse, if committed against woman, takes away her dignity and her self-confidence.
- The attack on the character of sex-abuser or offender by sex abuse victim, is the reaction of self-defence after the mental trauma suffered by the victim regarding the shame attached with the crime committed against her.
- The woman cannot be punished for raising voice against the sex-abuse on the pretext of criminal complaint of defamation as the right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of life and dignity of woman as guaranteed in Indian Constitution under article 21 and right of equality before law and equal protection of law as guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution. The woman has a right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice.
- In view of the above discussion, the Court considered the view that case of complainant regarding commission of offence punishable U/s. 500 IPC against the accused is not proved and she is acquitted for the same.
– Esha Shah, Paralegal – Inclusion at Work