Prominent Bollywood celebrities, including actors Taapsee Pannu, Richa Chadha, and filmmaker Onir on Wednesday hailed journalist Priya Ramani’s acquittal in MJ Akbar’s criminal defamation case over allegations of sexual harassment. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey dismissed the complaint filed by Akbar, saying that no charges were proved against Ramani. The celebrities termed the judgement as a landmark moment for women and their fight against workplace sexual harassment.
Taking to Twitter, Pannu said that the verdict had instilled her faith in justice at a time when the world looked bleak. “Amidst all the wrongs and unfair happening around, this did bring a ray of hope that somewhere something is keeping our hope in righteousness alive. Long live truth and justice,” the “Thappad” star wrote.
Actor Swara Bhasker tweeted, “You go girls! #PriyaRamani #RebeccaJohn.” In an apparent reference to Akbar, Chadha wrote,”Hope Mr Burns spends the rest of his disgraced days in a radioactive den…” Charles Montgomery ‘Monty’ Burns is an evil character from animated series “The Simpsons”. “Bye Burns. Burn in contemporary hell,” she later tweeted with the character’s GIF from the show. Director Hansal Mehta said, “I thought he was convicted for sexual harassment seein all the glee around. Instead the victim has been acquitted for alleged defamation. We have such low expectations.” Ramani had made an allegation of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018. In response, Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct decades ago.
Onir called the Delhi court’s verdict a “milestone judgement”. “This is spectacular. A milestone judgement when it comes to sexual harassment. Important that the court points out that it’s not time-bound. Amazing #PriyaRamani #Rebeccajon” he tweeted.
Screenwriter-editor Apurva Asrani said Ramani’s acquittal is a “relief” for those women who found the courage to call out their abusers but said it’s only half the battle won. “MJ Akbar must be held accountable for the harassment that she has endured. #MeToo,” he wrote.
Actor Mini Mathur said: “Priya Ramani is acquitted. The fact that she needed to defend her accusations of harassment against a powerful man notwithstanding, this is a huge step forward for women speaking up against sexual harassment. Big shoutout to her lawyer Rebecca John as well #justice” Singers Chinmayi Sripaada and Sona Mohapatra, who had come out with their own stories of sexual harassment in the wake of #MeToo movement, also hailed the judgement. “It is our right to identify and expose our molesters. File a case when we have the strength and support to do so. #PriyaRamani” Sripaada tweeted. Mohapatra said, “Mr MJ Akbar’s reputation is one that stinks. So protecting it would mean harming a whole society & its dignity. This case is one for #India’s protection. Not just her women but also all the good people of this country. #ThankYou #PriyaRamani for standing strong. @IndiaMeToo” Akbar, who had resigned as Union minister in October 2018, has denied all the allegations of sexual harassment by women who came forward during #MeToo campaign against him. Reacting to the judgment, Ramani said that it feels great to have your truth validated before court.
It feels amazing, truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment at work place. “It was me the victim who had to stand up in the court as an accused. I thank everyone who stood by me especially my witnesses Ghazala Wahab and Niloufer Venkatraman who came to the court and testified on my behalf,” Ramani said as she thanked lawyer Rebecca John and her team for putting their heart and soul in the case.