New Delhi, Nov 12: The Sunday Guardian Editor Joyeeta Basu on Monday strongly defended former Union Minister M.J. Akbar, who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women journalists, calling him “a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation”.
Appearing in a Delhi court as a complainant witness in the defamation case filed by Akbar against woman journalist Priya Ramani, Basu said the defamatory tweets by Ramani had irreparably damaged Akbar’s reputation.
Basu told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal: “…after reading these tweets by Priya Ramani, I feel that they were made intentionally with a purpose to harm Akbar’s reputation and goodwill in the eyes of the society.”
Basu, who has worked with Akbar for around 15 years, said that his behaviour with her was impeccable.
“He was a perfect professional and a tough task master with the entire office. I have not heard anything untoward from the staff of the organisation in which we have worked together,” she said.
Basu told the court that she had always held Akbar in high regard.
“Akbar has always been a thorough professional and a brilliant teacher who taught me all aspects of journalism.
“I considered him to be a brilliant journalist, a scholarly writer and a thorough gentleman with an impeccable reputation in my eyes.”
She said that whoever read and heard about Ramani’s tweet and article wanted to know from her if Akbar was really like that.
Akbar’s image had taken a severe beating in the eyes of the people, she said, adding that she was shocked and disappointed when she read the tweet.
“In spite of my experience with him, his reputation, his image took a beating in my eyes on reading the article/tweet.
“…I realised it were misplaced and unfounded as my experience over the past two decades had shown him to be a perfect gentleman and his behaviour had been exemplary.”
The court will take up the case again on December 7.
The court was hearing the defamation case against Ramani filed by the former Minister of State for External Affairs, a journalist-turned-politician who is now with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Ramani was the first in a long list of women journalists to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment.
A Rajya Sabha member, Akbar has denied all the charges against him as “false, wild and baseless”.
He has listed the names of two senior women journalists — Joyeeta Basu and Veenu Sandal — besides four others as his witnesses to prove his defamation charges against Ramani.