Karnataka Excise Minister HY Meti’s resignation from the Siddharamaiah cabinet, following allegations over his involvement in a sex scandal, rocked political circles in Karnataka. Even as the scandal plays out, the media’s role in telecasting footage from a video CD has come under question by the state women’s commission.
The Karnataka State Commission for Women, headed by Nagalakshmi Bai, has demanded action against news channels that repeatedly aired portions of the video CD featuring Meti and a woman, some without even masking the video. A letter listing the Commission’s demands was sent to the Information and Broadcasting Department on Monday.
Since the news of the scandal broke, many TV channels have been airing portions of the footage multiple times at various points of the day.
Pointing out that members of different age groups, including children, tend to watch television channels, the commission maintained that such content is not appropriate for general viewing. Such explicit content is also likely to have negative impact on the viewers, and can lead them to the wrong path, the letter states.
Moreover, the Commission is of the belief that airing such content violates the modesty of women, it states.
On Monday, Nagalakshmi told reporters in Tumakuru that the woman in the tape "should not hide," but should instead approach the Commission to explain her side of the matter.
Nagalakshmi said that repeated attempts at contacting the woman had failed, and assured her complete support from the Commission.
Ever since the controversy broke on December 11, many regional television channels have been cashing in on it, running brief clippings from the video lasting just over 13 minutes with every update. Some channels also interviewed a woman – with her face covered – who claimed that the minister had demanded sexual favours from her.
The scandal first broke after a Bellary-based RTI activist Rajashekhar made claims regarding the CD, although it took nearly a day for the clip to emerge in the media.
The CD has now been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for verification.
Though Meti had dismissed the allegations outright, the building scandal saw his exit from the Ministry, and caused much embarrassment for the ruling Congress party in the state.