No crime if life is "private and personal"?
On July 27, 2012 a Delhi court announced the DNA test report on the paternity dispute filed by Rohit Shekhar: "Tiwari is reported to be the biological father of Rohit Shekhar and Ujjwala Sharma is reported to be the biological mother".
This has put at rest the long battle Rohit Shekhar waged to establish his paternity. After the verdict Shekhar said: "I am not the illegitimate son, he is my illegitimate father".
But the most interesting has been the reaction of both the 87-year old Congress veteran and the Congress Party itself. Within 15 minutes of the DNA test report being out in Delhi, Mr. Tiwari reiterated his "full faith in the judiciary". In a written statement issued at Dehradun the same day he said: "I would like to clarify that this is a fight of egos and selfishness of both parties". One party is the mother-sun duo, who is the second party?
"I have always avoided controversies", Mr. Tiwari went on. "Due to my simplicity, people close to me have victimized me through a conspiracy in my advanced age". Mind the words "simplicity" and "victimized".
Expressing his "sympathy for Rohit Shekhar" saying he has "no complaint against him", he deliberately avoided speaking about his mother Ujjwala.
Reiterating his "every right to live my private life according to my rules", he has a piece of advice to the media: "Please do not hype this issue unnecessarily…it is not right to interfere in the personal life of a person". He concludes with a sacred promise: "Till my last breath, I'll be committed to India's development".
In his reaction Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said: "We should not talk about somebody's personal issue like this. The party has nothing to do with it". (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2180106/Tiwari-dad-87-DNA-test-finally-settles-decades-old-paternity-suit-veteran-Congress-leader.html?ito=feeds-newsxml)
There is a grain of truth – and irony – in Mr. Shekhar's statement that "I am not the illegitimate son, he is my illegitimate father". Every individual – Mr. Tiwari included – has a right to his "private and personal life" as long as it does not infringe the social, cultural and legal ethos of the caste, community, region and the country one belongs. He is not an ordinary individual; he is a Congress veteran who had been chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and later of Uttarakhand five times, besides holding constitutional posts like that of governor and a union minister for pretty long. He enjoyed physical relations and conjugal rights with a woman not his legally-wedded wife even while his legally wedded spouse was alive alive. That does violate the law of the land and, therefore, the matter becomes public.
Surprisingly, for political considerations neither the Human Rights Commission nor the National Commission for Women thought it fit to interfere in Ujjwala Sharma's case which they knew was highly combustible inferno.
To expect moral values from today's politicians is like running after catching hold of a golden goose. Yet, even if it is somebody's "private and personal life" he wishes to lead "according to my rules", it does impact the life of the people around him, those who vote for him, who make him occupy high public offices at public cost and, above all, the society he is part of .
Whatever right or wrong Mr. Tiwari may have committed if taken to its logical conclusion, then any wrong or crime, including corruption, a politician or even a bureaucrat commits is a part of his "private and personal life" because any material benefit he derives is for his personal self and not for the public. Every murder has a motive and the one committed by a minister or bureaucrat has a "private and personal" angle and, therefore, even if directly or indirectly connected with his public and official duty, the motive is only "private and personal".
Mr. A. Raja, Mr. Kalmadi and the like are facing charges of corruption. Any money they may have changed hands did not go to the public exchequer but to the private pockets. Therefore, how are they officially responsible? By the corollary of Mr. Tiwari's stand, the media should refrain from creating an unnecessary "hype" and "it is not right to interfere in the personal life of a person".
We Indians boast of being morally very high. But when we are caught in a compromising position, we shout from our housetop: It's our private and personal life in which the people have no right to pierce through.
The "private and personal life" theory could also be further stretched to claim innocence if a father kills his son and vice versa or one of the spouses kills the other because that too is a "private and personal life" of the individuals. The French embassy official who has recently been hauled up for rape of his 3-year daughter too could claim it his "private and personal life".
On the other hand, in western countries politicians and public men whom we consider morally and culturally very inferior, do not invoke the shield of "private and personal life" to conceal or justify their misconduct.
When Profumo scandal burst out in UK about three decades back, he simply resigned. When US President Bill Clinton got involved in Monica Lewinski scandal, he faced the impeachment proceedings but did not cry hoarse: It's my private and personal life.
Recently, as a Republican candidate for 2012 elections Sarah Palin was emerging a serious challenge to US President President Obama, but some scandals came to light of her sexual escapades. She finally withdrew herself from the contest but did not raise her voice to say: It's my private and personal life.
It also remains a mystery: how many lives do our politicians and bureaucrats have?