Minister Resigns Amid Flurry Of Sexual Harassment Charges

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Several women, mostly journalists, have accused India's junior foreign minister M.J. Akbar of sexual harassment in the last few days. Now some of them are among India's most powerful women, heading the newsrooms of three English-language newspapers in the country and working internationally at major outlets like CNN and The New York Times.

Akbar, through his counsel, told the court that Ramani's defamatory statements had damaged his image, lowering his esteem in the eyes of the public. We look forward to you, Honourable Rashtrapatiji, to uphold the dignity of the many women who have put their reputations at stake in making these allegations.

Section 500 of the IPC provides for the sentence for the offence of defamation and an accused may be awarded two-year jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.

Cases typically drag on for years in India's overstretched legal system. "Not all victims have the emotional fortitude to withstand the rigors of a criminal trial in India". PM Modi asked MJ Akbar to step down as Union Minister over #MeToo allegations by women journalists, claims media reports.

We also have a robust court system in place, including defamation laws, so that if there are questions as to the accuracy of allegations made, these can be tested in court.

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Union Minister MJ Akbar, who is handling the portfolio of Ministry of external affairs, resigned today. Prior to that meeting, Mr Doval also met Mr Akbar and then home minister Rajnath Singh before meeting the BJP president.

Indian women are now facing their toughest battle yet, demanding accountability from the highest echelon of male power: the government.

Akbar's boss, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi both were opposed to him continuing in office while he fought a legal battle against his accusers, the sources, who can not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said.

"Whilst it is apparent that the accused has resorted to a series of maliciously serious allegations which she is diabolically and viciously spreading in media, it is also apparent that false narrative against the complainant (Akbar) is being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda", it alleged.

Mr Akbar has already filed a criminal defamation case in this regard.

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Hours after he returned from his African tour, Akbar dismissed the allegations as "false, fabricated and deeply distressing" and stated his intention of pursuing legal action against his accusers, hiring 97 lawyers to represent him in the case.

Ramani said in a statement on Twitter on Monday that she was ready to fight the defamation allegation "as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence".

Priya Ramani welcomed Akbar's exit.

Twenty journalists had come out in her support on Tuesday evening, saying she was not alone and that they would testify in court against Akbar.

Akbar's legal actions demonstarate "his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused huge pain and indeed harm to many, many women over the years", they said.

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