- Court dismisses police's request for custody of Nakkheeran Gopal
- He was arrested on charges of defamation against Governor in an article
- Chennai police officers said the article was offensive and defamatory
The editor of popular Tamil weekly 'Nakkheeran', who was arrested this morning on charges of defamation for allegations against Governor Banwarilal Purohit in an article, will not go to jail. A court in Chennai has dismissed the police's request for the custody of journalist Nakkheeran Gopal.
The police had charged the journalist under Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code which refers to assault on President or Governor to restrain them from exercising their lawful power.
Mr Gopal's lawyer had argued that Section 124 cannot be applied here as the police could not prove that the Governor and Mr Gopal had ever met and so there could not have been any "assault" - as defined in the Penal Code.
Following Mr Gopal's release, MDMK leader Vaiko, who had been arrested as he protested outside the police station where Gopal was taken to, was also freed. "It's a victory. It's a slap on Raj Bhavan. It's also for spineless Tamil Nadu government which acted upon governor's wish. The court has judged well," Mr Vaiko said, according to news agency ANI.
Mr Gopal was arrested when he was about to board a flight to Pune.
The article that landed him in trouble was on a Tamil Nadu college professor who was arrested in the "sex-for-marks" scam. Nirmala Devi allegedly pushed girls into offering sexual favours to university officials in return for marks. An alleged telephone recording of her conversation with a few women students had gone viral.
Mr Gopal quoted a police officer in the article as claiming that Nirmala Devi had confessed to meeting the Governor, who is also chancellor of the university, and R Rajagopal, the Chief Secretary to the Governor, with women students. Banwarilal Purohit was not investigated in the case, the article claimed.
Chennai police officers said the article was offensive and defamatory.
The Governor has denied the allegations and clarified that he never met the accused professor. He has also appointed an inquiry by retired bureaucrat R Santhanam.
Reports suggested that the police wanted to charge Mr Gopal under a criminal law on assaulting the governor.
Over the years, Tamil Nadu has seen the government filing defamation cases against journalists, publishers and even politicians for their writings and public speeches. During J Jayalalithaa's rule, more than 200 cases were filed.
An official of the Governor's Raj Bhavan said: "Since July the magazine has been publishing baseless reports with malafide intention of tarnishing the Governor."
With inputs from IANS