New Delhi: Minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar, facing allegations of sexual harassment by his former colleagues in journalism, has ‘appointed’ 97 lawyers of a famous law firm to defend his reputation in the court.

“I/We Mobashar Javed Akbar be above named complainant do hereby appoint (list of lawyers) herein after called advocates to be my/our advocates in the above noted case and authorised them to act appear and plead in the above noted case in the court or in any court,” the vakalatnama (authorisation of lawyers by a party to the dispute in a court of law) reads. It’s a part of Akbar’s petition of defamation against journalist Priya Ramani.

The complaint has been filed under IPC Sections 499 and 500 for making false and defamatory statements in the print/electronic media against him.

In the complaint, Akbar has given details of Ramani’s Twitter status and a copy of an article. He has given the details of news links of international media outlets as well that published reports related to Ramani’s allegation.

Priya Ramani, in her statement, said, “I am deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. 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.”

“Needless to say, I am ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” Ramani said. Several women journalists, including Priya Ramani, Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shutapa Paul, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlout, Kadambari M Wade, Majlie de Puy Kamp and Ruth David, have made allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar.