Matter not filed against MP/MLA, hence cannot be tried by this court: Judge Vishal Pahuja
A Delhi court, which was hearing former Union Minister M.J. Akbar’s defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for her tweets accusing him of sexual harassment for about two years, on Tuesday said it cannot hear the case any more because of a recent verdict of the Supreme Court.
“As the present matter is not filed against Member of Parliament (MP)/Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), hence cannot be tried by this court and needs to be transferred to the competent court of jurisdiction,” Judge Vishal Pahuja said.
On September 16, the apex court had asked the Chief Justices of all High Courts to list before an appropriate Bench all pending criminal cases involving sitting and former lawmakers where stay was granted.
In terms of this order, certain cases that did not pertain to sitting and former lawmakers but were already being heard by Judge Pahuja were transferred to other courts. On Tuesday, when Mr. Akbar’s case came up for hearing, Judge Pahuja said, “Let this matter be put up before the court of Principal District and Sessions Judge (Rouse Avenue District Courts) for October 14… for further appropriate orders.”
Speaking to The Hindu, senior advocate Rebecca John said since this case was instituted by Mr. Akbar, the court has referred it to the Principal District and Sessions Judge. If the case is transferred to another court, it will commence at the stage of final argument where it left off. “The record of the case goes with the case,” said Ms. John.
At the height of the ‘MeToo movement’ in 2018, Ms. Ramani had accused Mr. Akbar of sexual harassment during his previous role as newspaper editor. Following Ms. Ramani’s accusation, about a dozen former colleagues of Mr. Akbar also came out with different allegations against him.
Days before he resigned from his post of Minister of State for External Affairs in October 2018, Mr. Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against Ms. Ramani, citing her open letter published in a magazine and her tweets naming him.
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