Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Friday defended the police complaint against the editor of a Tamil weekly, saying he was hurt by the "continuous slander" published in the magazine against him and asserted that he would never be cowed down.
Days after the arrest and subsequent release of R Gopal, the editor of the vernacular weekly 'Nakkheeran,' in connection with articles linked to an assistant professor of a college that allegedly disparaged the governor, the Raj Bhavan strongly refuted the charges.
"Having been hurt by the continuous baseless slander, a complaint has been given under the law," a statement by Raj Bhavan said.
"The links attributed to the governor or the Raj Bhavan in the issue concerning a college assistant professor Nirmala Devi is absolute falsehood and there is not a shred of truthfulness in it," it said, adding, "The statement given by Nirmala Devi to the police would itself bear out the truth."
The statement said in a democracy, there can be a healthy exchange of ideas, but no threats, direct or indirect, on a constitutional authority as the governor will be tolerated.
"The Raj Bhavan can and will never be cowed down by actions aimed at hurting the dignity of the high office," it said.
Devi was arrested in April for allegedly luring some college girls to extend sexual favours to "varsity officials," in return for "grades and money."
She had purportedly claimed "access to the Governor," in her mobile phone conversation with the girls, and the allegation was trashed by Purohit as "false and defamatory". An audio recording of Nirmala Devi's conversation with the girls had gone viral immediately before her arrest.
The statement issued on Friday said the Raj Bhavan was maintaining a dignified silence for more than six months since the law was taking its course, and it was indeed shocking to see a "resurfacing of yellow journalism" in an issue of the magazine in late September after the charge-sheets had been filed and all investigation completed.
The governor's office said those who claimed to be engaged in "investigative journalism", did not even bother to verify the actual statement given by Nirmala Devi to the police.
"The truth is that Nirmala Devi has never entered Raj Bhavan in the last one year and she does not have any acquaintance with the Governor or the Secretary to the Governor or any of the officers working in the Raj Bhavan."
Giving point by point rebuttal to the innuendos and allegations levelled against the governor in the magazine articles, the statement said the governor never visited the university guest house in Madurai when he was invited there for a convocation.
"He has at no point of time stayed at the guest house," the Raj Bhavan said, adding only "hatred towards goodness and truth" could have driven any journalist to write the articles in the manner they appeared in 'Nakkeeran'.
It was regrettable that such falsehood and yellow journalism was being supported by respectable people who appeared to be not aware of the facts, it said.
The Raj Bhavan also deprecated the claims that the freedom of the press being stifled.
"It is a matter of humour to hear people say that press freedom is being threatened on the count of action, being taken under the law after much patience and tolerance to stop a slanderous, vulgar and cowardly way of attacking the first citizen of the state," the statement said.
No action even bordering on the excessive use of state power will be initiated or supported by Raj Bhavan. The people of the state would stand by righteousness, truth and goodness, it said.
Gopal was arrested on October 9 under Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which relates to "assaulting President, Governor etc with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power".
He walked free within hours after a court rejected the police's plea for his remand. The court enlarged Gopal on bail on a personal bond.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)