The Telegraph report on October 15, 2008, on the case
July 27: Weeks before the conclusion of the DNA report was made public in Delhi High Court, Rohit Shekhar used to practise a dialogue Amitabh Bachchan delivered in Trishul.
Spoken angrily against his on-screen father, played by Sanjeev Kumar, Bachchan’s character says: “Aur aap, aap mere najayez baap hain…. Aaj aap ke paas sab kuchh sahi, lekin maine aap se zyada garib aaj tak nahin dekha (and you, you are my illegitimate father.... Today you may have everything, but I haven’t seen a poorer man).”
Today, minutes after the DNA test result was announced in the court, Rohit, a 32-year-old lawyer, could only mutter: “I am not the illegitimate son of N.D. Tiwari but he (Tiwari) is my illegitimate father.”
Rohit turned reflective. “I am neither happy nor sad. I will take what is rightfully mine.”
His mother Ujjwala, with whom Tiwari had admitted having had a relationship, said: “I am happy with today’s development. We will accept whatever the court decides for us. Today’s decision has restored our faith in the country’s judicial system.”
From Dehradun, Tiwari, 87, said: “This is my personal matter. The country should not waste its time on this. Please do not try to look into my private life. I have been a freedom fighter. I have the right to live according to my own wishes. No one has the right to look into my private life.”
Tiwari, who described himself as a “follower” of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, said: “Due to my simplicity, at this point of my age, my trusted people hatched a conspiracy against me in a planned way. I have no remorse against them. My sympathy is with Mr Rohit Shekhar. I also have no grudge against Mr Rohit Shekhar.”
The case had been filed in Delhi High Court in 2007 and reported first by The Telegraph in its October 15, 2008, edition.
In the courtroom, there was nobody from Tiwari’s side today. Over the past 24 hours, Tiwari’s battery of lawyers had moved the Supreme Court and a division bench of Delhi High Court to prevent the contents of the DNA report from being made public.
Earlier too, Tiwari, a four-time chief minister, former Union minister and governor who resigned after a sex scandal in the Andhra Raj Bhavan, had tried various legal routes to avoid submitting a blood sample. Following a court order, he furnished a sample on May 29 this year at his Dehradun residence.
Speaking to this correspondent, Rohit had earlier given a detailed account of why he had chosen to file a paternity suit against Tiwari in 2007 and not when he had turned an adult nine years earlier. “For starters, it’s nigh impossible to expect an 18-year-old to file a lawsuit against such a powerful man,” he had said.
Rohit said that whenever he met Tiwari, the veteran politician would say: “Oh your nose is like mine, you look like me, you sound so much like me.”
But “when my mother would ask him why he didn’t acknowledge me as his son, he had an excuse ready”.
“He (Tiwari) would shrug and say he could, but there were compulsions. I asked him ‘What compulsions? You, all of 53, had entered into a relationship with my 35-year-old mother for eight years and it’s you who pleaded with my mother to have a child by you, saying you’d marry her after that. You’ve done enough injustice to my mother and ruined 23 or 24 years (at that time) of my life. She kept quiet only because I was in school and then in college. But I’m not going to keep quiet now’,” Rohit said.
According to Rohit, when Tiwari was chief minister of Uttarakhand in 2005, he realised that the politician would not accept him. “This was the time I was going through an upheaval of identity. I was wronged by someone who was very powerful. It was in my face.”
Rohit said his adoptive father, B.P. Sharma, had fulfilled the role of a parent. Sharma agreed to undergo a DNA test that established that Rohit was not his biological son.
“I was told about my biological father (Tiwari) when I was 11. I’ve always had the image of this man in my head whom I believed I resembled, I spoke like him. People said I looked like him. The things a normal child takes for granted. That wasn’t my case. It tore me up. The situation was bizarre, to say the least.”
Tiwari remained affectionate to him in private but in public, he refused to acknowledge him, Rohit said.
“Once, I was waiting outside his room. The MLAs who were already there saw me emerge from the chief minister’s room. They asked me who I was. I muttered that I’d come for some research from Delhi. When Tiwari came out, he did not acknowledge me at all. Not that my mother hadn’t warned me about his, but only I knew how badly it hurt.”
Seven years ago, Rohit said, he had gone to greet Tiwari on his 80th birthday with flowers. “He took my maala (garland) and affectionately gave me a bouquet. I assumed he would start acknowledging me publicly from then on. I had gone there with a cake. But some people came up and told me to leave, saying it would not be good for Tiwari if I stayed. Luckily, we have photographs of that day.”
It turned out to be the last meeting between Rohit and Tiwari. When Rohit’s lawyers sent letters to Tiwari, the chief minister’s office began a counter-campaign dubbing him a “blackmailer”.
Rohit then decided to file a case. The legal process was long, painful and expensive. At one stage, Rohit said, he toyed with the idea of withdrawing the case because of financial constraints. The high court’s view, ratified by the Supreme Court, was that a DNA test must be carried out.
Earlier in the day, the division bench of the high court concurred with the single-judge order of Justice Reva Khetrapal that the report cannot be kept confidential as the apex court did not order so, adds PTI. “This DNA report is a piece of evidence,” the bench said.