Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar resigned from the government on Wednesday following allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by several women journalists. The minister was earlier defiant and ignored demands seeking his resignation.
He filed a criminal defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani, who was among those who accused him of sexual harassment.
The 20 women journalists, including 19 from The Asian Age, and 1 from Deccan Chronicle, have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some have suffered sexual harassment from him and others have been a witness to it.
"I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity".
After Akbar resigned, Ramani said women feel vindicated. On Tuesday, the news website Scroll published a new accusation of harassment from journalist Tushita Patel, who prefaced her allegations by saying that she felt compelled to speak out because of Akbar's brazen denial.
Former Minister for State for External Affairs, MJ Akbar's counsel told a Delhi court that Journalist Priya Ramani has caused a dent into the image of the former minister, which he had built over 40 years.
India is traditionally a conservative country, where discussions about sex are still taboo for many and where women have long lagged behind men in workplace participation.
In a statement issued to the media, Akbar said the accusations against him were false and that he would fight them in a "personal capacity". Ghazala Wahab, now the executive editor FORCE newsmagazine, wrote a detailed account on The Wire of her time at Asian Age, where she worked under Akbar, alleging that he molested her and harassed her repeatedly, until she could not take it any more and quit. The Guild came out in support of the women journalists who accused him of sexual harassment.
Luthra then mentioned Ramani's October 10 tweet,"Ten of us @_sabanaqvi @prernabindra @ghazalawahab @kadambarim @shutapapaul @suparnasharma @harinderbaweja @shumaraha @153anju have painted you a clear portrait of media's biggest sexual predator".
Congress party termed Akbar's resignation as "victory of truth".
Modi has remained silent as the accusations against Akbar have mounted, but the ruling Bharatiya Janata party's president, Amit Shah, and several female ministers have acknowledged the allegations and said they are being examined. He is the biggest casualty since the #MeToo movement in India gained traction in recent weeks.