The District and Sessions Judge of the Rouse Avenue Court will pronounce, on October 22, its order on the transfer of criminal defamation suit filed by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani to another court after the presiding judge refused to hear the matter due to jurisdictional issue.
On Tuesday, at the last leg of the matter, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja said: "There has been a direction from the Supreme Court. This case has to be placed before the District and Sessions Judge for further directions. This court will deal with cases against MP and MLAs."
While hearing the matter on Wednesday, District and Sessions Judge Sujata Kohli said that the notification in this regard was passed long back in 2018 and the case was filed in that year but none of the officers or counsel took note of it and the case continued.
"Suppose there is no jurisdiction, the consequence can be very dangerous. The entire trial is de novo," the judge said, and reserved the order for October 22 at 4 p.m.
During the course of proceedings, advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing on the behalf of complainant Akbar requested the court to send the matter back to the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pahuja as the trial was at the last leg and it would save judicial time.
Advocate Bhavook Chauhan, appearing for Ramani, however, said: "The notification mandates that Judge Pahuja's court is solely for MP or MLAs. It is upto this Court to decide now."
On September 19, senior advocate Rebecca John concluded her submissions on behalf of Ramani. On Tuesday, the court was due to hear Luthra's rebuttal on behalf of Akbar, but the proceedings have now been put on halt due to jurisdictional issue.
In the wake of #MeToo movement, Ramani had in 2018 accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago. Akbar resigned as Union Minister thereafter and filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani, asserting that her allegations were "false" and that it had cost him his stellar reputation.
Ramani was one of the several women journalists to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment.