#MeToo: Indian Minister MJ Akbar Resigns Over Accusations of Sexual Harassment

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"The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has accepted the resignation of M J Akbar from the Union Council of Ministers, with immediate effect, under clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution", the Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said.

Ms Ramani is one of the 20 women who have accused him of sexual harassment during his stint with The Telegraph and the Asian Age, where he worked as an editor.

Akbar had alleged political reasons behind the allegations against him, pointing that they came ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

MJ Akbar, however, has denied the allegations and filed a criminal defamation case in a New Delhi court on Monday against journalist Priya Ramani.

"The Court, taking cognizance of the complaint has set the next date for pre-summoning and examining of the complainant and his witnesses on October 31".

Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India and a large number of eminent citizens like senior advocate Indira Jaising and common people - men and women alike - who have voiced their support for the #MeToo campaign have urged Akbar to withdraw the defamation suit against Ramani. "Since we have already filed the defamation case, we will pursue it in the court", he added.

"By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Mr Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment", she said.

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Nineteen women journalists have come out against MoS for External Affairs MJ Akbar, said reports late on Tuesday.

"The resignation of MoS External Affairs MJ Akbar after serious charges were levelled against him by senior women journalists who worked with him is a vindication of the power of truth even if it began with one courageous person speaking up", she said.

"I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity".

Sixteen women named MJ Akbar in online posts accusing him of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Akbar was in Nigeria on government business when the first allegations emerged and was rumoured to be planning to resign when he returned on Sunday.

Akbar said that the "scandalous allegations leveled" by Ramani were "ex facie defamatory and have not only damaged his goodwill and reputation.in his social circles and on the political stage, established after years of toil and hard work". He is the biggest casualty since the #MeToo movement in India gained traction in recent weeks. After women began recounting their sexual harassment experiences, she retweeted the article earlier this month, saying it was about him and called him a "predator".

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