Stung by criticism that he had overstepped his limits by invoking a draconian law to silence ‘Nakkeran” editor R R Gopal, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Friday denied he ever had links with a college professor involved in a university sex scandal as suggested by magazine article
In a strongly worded statement, the Governor said there was not a shred of truth in the charge that he had links with Arupokkottai college assistant professor Nirmala Devi, an accused in a sex for marks scam, and the article based on her confessional statement to the police.
Justifying the police complaint by the Raj Bhavan against Gopal, the statement said the series of articles published in the magazine on the basis of Nirmala Devi’s confessional statement was “a slanderous, vulgar and cowardly way of attacking the first citizen of the state.”
The Raj Bhavan in a statement said while there can be a healthy exchange of ideas,” no threats direct or indirect on a constitutional authority as the Honourable Governor will be tolerated.”
The Raj Bhavan “cannot and will not be cowed down by actions at hurting the dignity of the high office.”
Apparently referring to criticism of the Governor’s action by senior journalist N Ram, the Indian Newspaper Society and editorials in leading English dailies in the name of press freedom, the Raj Bhavan said”it is a matter of regret that such utter falsehood and this kind of yellow journalism is being supported by respectable people who, it appears , are not aware of the facts.”
The statement was silent on why Sec 124A of the IPC, a draconian provision, was sought to be slapped on Gopal until local magistrate ruled it was not applicable and set Gopal free.
In a specific denial, the Raj Bhavan said :” The truth is that Tmt. Nirmala Devi has never entered Raj Bhavan in the last one year and she does not have any acquaintance with the Honourable Governor or the Secretary to the Governor or any of the Officers working in the Raj Bhavan.”
It said the Governor never visited the University guest house ( as claimed by Nirmala Devi) when he was invited there for the Mother Theresa University Convocation which held in the Madurai Kamaraj University. “He has at no point of time stayed in the guest house”.
Referring to the article which Nirmala Devi’s claim that she got to know the Governor thorugh his secretary Rajagopalan, the statement said, he did not even accompany the Governor on any visit to the Madurai Kamaraj University.
Explaining why the Governor had taken such a long time to initiate action against Gopal when the magazine had been carrying a series of article on the issue, the statement said that Raj Bhavan kept a dignified silence for more than six months since the issue came to light since the law was taking its course and trial was on before the court.
Nakkeeran started the series from late September after the charge - sheet was filed. The magazine which claimed to be engaged in investigative journalism” did not even bother to verify the actual statement given by Nirmala Devi before the police”.
The Governor ruled out withdrawing the police complaint, saying that he had been ‘hurt by the continuous baseless slander’.
Refuting the criticism of Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin that the Governor had exceeded his powers, the statement said “no action even bordering on the excessive use of state power will be initiated or supported by Raj Bhavan.”