Amid rumours that MJ Akbar has hired 97 lawyers to fight his case against journalist Priya Ramani, the law firm Karanjawala &Co. has confirmed that six lawyers out of the 97 will defend the journalist-turned-politician.
Akbar filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
"Our firm has 100 lawyers. We usually have all the names printed in one vakalatnama with only the ones who will appear in the case signing it. Our criminal team has six members and only those six will appear in this case. Only they have signed the vakalatnama," a representative of the firm told News18.
MJ Akbar's defence team will comprise of the senior members of the law firm including the senior partners, senior associates and the principal associate. They are Sandeep Kapur, Veer Sandhu, Niharika Karanjawala, Apoorva Pandey, Mayank Dutta, and Gudipati G Kashyap, according to the News18 report.
BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay who has opposed this said, "One Vakalatnama has only one lawyer and this is not the standard practice. This is unethical form of intimidation towards the journalist. There can be no convenience because a case is not followed by everyone. Ninety seven lawyers have to be briefed about the case after each development and how many lawyers can be briefed on this?"
The firm defended its move saying that it would have done the same thing if this was any other case.
The law firm filed a criminal case against Priya Ramani through a Vakalatnama. In 2017, Ramani spoke about being sexually harassed by an unnamed journalist in an interview with the HuffPost. In October 2018, she confirmed that that unnamed journalist was MJ Akbar.
After this, at least eight other women journalists have stepped forward recounting their experiences. The list included Force editor Ghazala Wahab who wrote a detailed account describing the harassment she faced at the hands of MJ Akbar who was the editor of Asian Age then.
These allegations levelled aginst him when Akbar was on an official trip to Nigeria.
All the women who accused MJ Akbar have said that they stand by their story.
The Telegraph quoted Priya Ramani saying, "The truth is the best defence in any defamation case. I'm not worried."
She hit back at MJ Akbar with a detailed statement hours after Akbar's suit against her.