A division bench of the Andhra Pradesh high court issued an injunction on Friday, prohibiting a private TV channel from showing explicit clippings purportedly of the 85-year-old state governor, N D Tiwari, in bed with three young women.
Tiwari denied media reports alleging his involvement in a sex scandal and termed them "malicious".
The court order came in response to a PIL, which was filed even as the images hit the TV screens on Christmas morning, leaving the citizens shell-shocked. By the time the court order reached the Telugu channel, the images had been on air for about an hour.
The images showed an old man, purportedly Tiwari, wearing no trousers and a shirt pulled up to the neck. All three women are naked, one at his legs and the others on his upper half. One of the women is said to be seven months pregnant, another just 18 years old.
Tiwari is a veteran Congress politician, who has been a Union minister under several Prime Ministers and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He figured in a scandal in 2008, when Rohit, the grandson of a former Union minister from Haryana, moved the Delhi high court, alleging that Tiwari was his father. In his reply to the court notice, Tiwari described Rohit’s mother, Ujjwala Sharma, as an “unchaste woman” and accused Rohit of acting at her behest.
"She as an unchaste woman had defendant 1 (Tiwari) as her paramour even during the subsistence of her marriage..." Tiwari’s reply had said.
Raj Bhavan, however, issued a denial of the reports. The counsel for the Raj Bhavan Ravishanker Jandhyala said, "There is absolutely no truth in the alleged news story which is nothing but sensation mongering."
"The alleged news story is nothing but a 'tissue of lies' and is denied," he said, adding there is no question of his resignation. "We will definitely file a defamation case. Already I have issued a notice in the afternoon (to the channel)," he added.
While the images, allegedly of Tiwari with three women in bed, shown on the Telugu channel, appear to tell all, the allegations of Radhika, a woman from Uttarakhand, are even more damning. Radhika claims to have sent these young women to the Raj Bhavan on Tiwari's request through a Raj Bhavan official. She says the octogeneranian's appetite for women is insatiable: he would ask for women in the middle of the night and also seek after-lunch sessions.
Women's rights activists, lawyers and politicians have reacted strongly to the sordid episode. Calling the governor a sexual deviant and a man who has brought shame to the office, women activists said the first citizen of Andhra Pradesh should be brought to heel immediately.
Radhika's role in the events remains hazy as she claims that Tiwari had said he would provide jobs to these young women, but used them for sexual favours instead. Radhika says that Tiwari, through an official, had promised her a mining licence in Kadapa. When he did not, she chose to expose him by leaking the video clips and photos.
Early on Friday morning, the governor's officer on special duty wrote a letter to the high court Chief Justice Ramesh Dave, drawing his attention in to a report in Friday's edition of the Telugu daily Andhra Jyothi. The report was a teaser to Tiwari's "sexcapades" to be shown on the newspaper's TV channel, ABN. Treating the letter as a public interest litigation (writ petition SR No. 149805/2009), a division bench comprising the chief justice and Justice Nagarjuna Reddy was urgently constituted to hear the matter.
Counsel for the governor, Jandhyala Ravishankar, pleaded with the bench to restrain the channel from showing the "highly objectionable" images. Responding to the plea, the bench passed an injunction around 11am to the ABN management to stop showing the visuals, which were "denigrating the gubernatorial office and causing immense damage to the highest office". Once the Jubilee Hills police handed over the court order to the channel, the airing of the visuals was immediately stopped.
With the news spreading like wildfire, there were spontaneous protests from women's activists who laid siege to the Raj Bhavan. Several members of women's organizations staged demonstrations. An effigy of Tiwari was burned in front of the Raj Bhavan. Later, police bundled the protesting women into a van and took them away.
V Sandhya, leader of the Progressive Organization of Women, said Tiwari should be dismissed immediately. "We have a woman President and another managing the biggest party in the country and we will petition them to take stern action against the man."
"These indecent acts inside the portals of the Raj Bhavan should be an eye-opener for all politicians," she said. She urged women activists to condemn the "sleazy acts" of the first citizen of the state and undertake protests in towns and mandals of the state.
AIDWA leader Jyothi said the system was so flawed that if police officers or government officials were found guilty of some charges, they are suspended first and an inquiry was is ordered. "Why can't the same rule be applied in the case of a constitutional head like the governor who has besmirched the highest office with his cheap act?" she said.
Reacting sharply, PRP leader Shobharani said it was shameful for a man holding such a high position. "Even to react to the incident is shocking for all of us as the girls shown in the visuals could be younger than Tiwari's granddaughters," she said.
Meanwhile, women activists took to the streets in Chittoor, Nellore, Khammam, Adilabad and other towns protesting against the governor's "rasa leelas" inside the Raj Bhavan. An official of the newspaper group said they would run the entire story in their Saturday's edition without publishing the sleazy photographs. "We are requesting the court to vacate the stay," he added.
Release my body with your lips & Stir my soul with the heat of your kiss
Muhabbat K Aabshaar-e-Ghazal ki Yahaa Kamee Nahi, Bas Mere Hi Chaman Mei Phir Kyu Itni Maayusi Hai?
Dekha hai Maine Mubeen hote Har khwaab ko Yaha, Phir Meri hi Duniyaa Kyu Issey Mehruum Hai?