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Journalist Joyeeta Basu defended former Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar against Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case filed by Akbar in the Patiala House court on Monday. Recording her statement with the chief metropolitan magistrate, Joyeeta said that Akbar was perfectly professional in his dealings with her and he was tough task master, a thorough professional and a brilliant teacher who taught her all aspects of newspaper journalism.
On October 15, 2018, Akbar had filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani who publicly accused him of harassment. The lawsuit named Priya Ramani as the sole accused and said she ‘intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious’ allegations to harm the minister’s reputation. In his petition, the former MoS for external affairs had named Joyeeta Basu, Veenu Sandal, Syed Habibur Rehman, Tapan Chaki, Sunil Gujral and Manzar Ali as witnesses. Lawyers Geeta Luthra and Sandeep Kapoor appeared for the former external affairs minister Patiala House court on Monday.
The the editor of Sunday Guardian, who is a prime witness in the case, said that she knows nothing against Akbar’s character though she used to work directly under him on a daily basis and was interacting with him directly over a period of time.
Joyeeta Basu, who had earlier said that Akbar had been “one of the best bosses”, and that she had “never felt uncomfortable” with him, mentioned before the judge that Akbar had helped her a lot during her stint at the Asian Age.
Speaking about her familiarity with Akbar and how the journalist-turned-politician was a good boss at the Asian Age, Joyeeta Basu said she had taken journalism as a profession around 1993-1994 when she was writing for the Mumbai-based Magna group of publications from Calcutta. She had met Akbar in November 1998 after she applied for a job in Asian Age. Akbar called her over phone and asked her to come for an interview when he would be traveling to Calcutta on the next occasion. After being selected in the interview, she shifted to Delhi and started working in the Asian Age from December 1998 and worked in various capacities during the period At the Asian Age. Joyeeta said Akbar allowed her to carve out a separate department out of editorial section and allowed to hire people.