File photo of MJ Akbar speaking in the Rajya Sabha. (Source: PTI)

Indian Minister Resigns to Contest #MeToo Allegations in Court

(Bloomberg) -- India’s junior foreign minister M.J. Akbar has resigned after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, the first politician to step down as the #MeToo movement continued to spread across India.

Akbar, who denied the sexual harassment allegations, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, according to a statement. He had recently filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who wrote about her experience in Vogue India. In his petition, Akbar said she “willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defamed him.

Indian Minister Resigns to Contest #MeToo Allegations in Court

"Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity," Akbar said in a statement.

More than a dozen women, including a Bloomberg journalist based in London, have alleged that Akbar sexually harassed them or engaged in other inappropriate behavior decades ago during his time as an editor of several Indian publications.