Indian journalist Priya Ramani, left, smiles as she leaves Patiala House Court in New Delhi, India, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. A…
FILE - Indian journalist Priya Ramani, left, smiles as she leaves Patiala House Court in New Delhi, India, Feb. 25, 2019. A New Delhi court on Feb. 17, 2021, acquitted Ramani of criminal defamation after she accused a politician of sexual harassment.

A Delhi court acquitted Indian journalist Priya Ramani on Wednesday of defamation charges filed by a former minister after Ramani accused him of sexual harassment in 2018. 

The court Wednesday concluded that "even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser." 

In 2018, Ramani wrote a story for Vogue India titled "To the Harvey Weinsteins of the World" without naming then-junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar. After its publication, dozens of women came forward to say they had been harassed by the politician. Later, Ramani retweeted the article admitting that it was about him. 

Akbar dismissed the allegations as "baseless and fabricated," filing a defamation suit against Ramani and resigning from his post two days later.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet re-shuffle at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi.
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India's junior foreign minister has resigned following allegations by more than a dozen female journalists of sexual harassment when he was the editor of prominent newspapers. He has dismissed the allegations as "baseless and fabricated." M.J.

"My victory will empower more women to speak up. This will make powerful men think twice before they drag other people to courts," Ramani told reporters after the decision Wednesday. 

The court's decision was welcomed by many Indian female journalists, who lauded Ramani on social media. 

"Go Priya. You fought for each one of us, you brave woman," Rana Ayyub, an independent journalist based in Mumbai, wrote on Twitter. 

Ramani's story came at the height of India's #MeToo movement in 2018. Around the time of Akbar's resignation, two editors of leading Indian dailies also stepped down from their posts following accusations of harassment.  

A Bollywood production house also closed in fall of 2018 following harassment allegations from actresses. 
 

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