New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) A woman astrologer and tarot card reader on Friday told a Delhi court that she has never heard of any misbehaviour by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar, who has always been a complete professional and a person of high integrity.
Veenu Sandal told Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal that Akbar, as a globally-acclaimed scholarly author and as an editor transformed the face of Indian journalism.
Testifying as a complainant witness in the Akbar’s defamation case against Ramani, Sandal told the court that she wrote columns on astrology and tarot cards reading in “The Asian Age” newspaper from 1994 to 2009.
She said that many colleagues used to narrate their professional, personal and career issues and problems and seek astrology and Tarrot card-based guidance from her.
“In my association with The Asian Age between 1994 till 2009, no one ever narrated or ever spoke to me against his (Akbar) misbehaviour,” she said.
The tarot cards reader told the court that few could match Akbar’s incisive analysis, particularly of political matters and that she has high respect for former Minister’s qualities.
“In his dealings with me, he has always been a complete professional and a person of high integrity,” the tarot card reader said.
“Simply by observing him, in both professional and personal situations, I learned a lot.”
She said Ramani’s allegation against Akbar was a huge jolt, shocking and very disturbing.
“After reading everything, my image of Akbar fell and he was tarnished in my eyes,” she stated, adding that a lot of talk was going on over this issue.
“…it was greatly embarrassing to be asked questions about Akbar as people knew of my association with him and it was very obvious that not only in my eyes but also in others, his reputation has been dragged through the mud and was in tatters,” Sandal said.
Sunil Gujral, a Delhi-based warehouse businessman, who is associated with Akbar for nearly 40 years, told the court that Akbar was a fine gentleman, hardworking professional and well respected as a journalist and an author all over the country.
Deposing as another complainant witness in the case, Gujral said that he has never heard any whisper regarding Akbar’s misconduct or misbehaviour.
He said that allegation against Akbar has shocked and disturbed him.
“I felt that irreparable damage has been done to Akbar’s reputation in my estimation as well as in the estimation of my friend circle and acquaintances,” Gujral said.
After concluding recording of the statement, the court listed the matter for January 11 for further hearing.
The court was hearing the defamation case against Ramani filed by the former Minister of State for External Affairs, a journalist-turned-politician, who is now with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Akbar’s counsel Sandeep Kapur has alleged that the false and defamatory statements were widely published in the media have caused irreparable loss to his reputation.
Ramani was the first in a long list of women journalists to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment.
A Rajya Sabha member, Akbar has denied all the charges against him as “false, wild and baseless”.
He has listed the names of two senior women journalists — Joyeeta Basu and Veenu Sandal — besides four others as his witnesses to prove his defamation charges against Ramani.