Hearing in a criminal defamation case filed by former union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani began in Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Thursday.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal took cognizance of the offence under section 500 of the IPC in the defamation suit filed by MJ Akbar and adjourned the case for further hearing on October 31. The court will examine statements of Akbar and other witnesses on the day.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra appearing for the minister told the court that the tweets of journalist Priya Ramani were defamatory in nature, which had garnered retweets and likes by over 1200 people.

Highlighting Akbar’s professional history to establish his reputation, the lawyer argued that the case had caused “irreparable damage to Akbar’s reputation which he had built over 40 years.”

She said articles in international and national media carried Ramani’s tweets, which are defamatory unless the journalist proves anything.

Read | Union minister MJ Akbar resigns, says will fight ‘false accusations’ in personal capacity

In a major development, Akbar earlier on Wednesday resigned from his post in the wake of a series of allegations of sexual harassment levelled by at least 16 women.

As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, 20 women journalists came out in support of Priya Ramani and urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

Read | #MeToo | 20 women journalists support Priya Ramani, to testify against MJ Akbar

Akbar, however, denied the allegations and sued Ramani on Monday before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Patiala House Court as he accused her of “intentionally putting forward malicious, fabricated and salacious” allegations to harm his goodwill and reputation.

Read | MJ Akbar files criminal defamation case against #MeToo accuser Priya Ramani