#Metoo: Maneka asks NCW to probe sexual harassment complaints expeditiously

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Editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar on Wednesday resigned from his post of Minister of State External Affairs, amid reports of sexual harassment allegations against him by several of his former colleagues.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal who took cognizance of case under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code asked the Former minister to be present in the court on October 31 and record his statement.

Meanwhile, Delhi's Patiala House Court on Tuesday, 16 October, listed the matter of the defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani for 18 October.

The union minister said she has written to six national parties and 59 regional parties requesting them to form the committees immediately.

Akbar on Monday had filed the criminal defamation complaint against Ramani alleging she "wilfully" and "maliciously" made imputations against him with the ulterior motive of maligning his reputation and political standing.

The court's observation came after hearing submissions of Akbar's counsel Geeta Luthra, who urged the court to consider the defamation suit and proceed against the woman journalist.

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Former Mint Lounge editor Priya Ramani wrote about her experience in a Vogue India article in October 2017 where she called out a "celebrity editor" without naming him.

Priya Ramani is the first woman journalist to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment around 20 years.

In a statement, the Guild said it salutes the courage shown by several women journalists in bringing to light instances of how they were sexually harassed.

Akbar, who was the editor of newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Asian Age, is the first significant political leader to be hit by India's #MeToo movement. "I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court #metoo", Ramani tweeted. Almost 20 women journalists had accused Akbar of sexual harrasment and given their accounts of travails with Ghazala Wahab accusing him of molestation.

The decision to step down as Union Minister of State, External Affairs Ministry, was Akbar's own and he may still remain a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Rajya Sabha, say reports. Akbar has denied the allegations and has dragged one of the complainants to the court with a criminal defamation case. The RSS too conveyed its support for the women journalists with its senior functionary Dattatreya Hosabale echoing in a tweet that there was need for sensibility about what is right and what is wrong.

More than 15 woman journalists have accused Akbar of sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour. It is known news that, he is accused by multiple women of sex harassment. But in the wake of #MeToo, the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi called for an investigation into the allegations followed by demands of his resignation by the Congress, and an immediate probe by BJP minister Smriti Irani.

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