The phones are ringing off the hook at Rohit Shekhar’s Defence Colony residence in Delhi. Family and friends are calling in with congratulatory messages. Visibly affected by the high-drama of the last two days, the 35-year-old lawyer says he never expected to see this day.
“I haven’t slept in two days,” Shekhar said, as his mother Ujjwala Sharma looks on, worried by the toll the case has taken on her son. Sharma is the daughter of former Congress Union Minister Sher Singh.
On Sunday night, seven years after a putting up a bitter fight in the courtrooms, veteran Congress leader who has served as chief minister four times and a governor of a state, 89-year-old ND Tiwari publicly acknowledged Shekhar as his son. The acknowledgment comes two years after a court-ordered DNA test had proved Shekhar as Tiwari’s biological son.
"I’ve been through hell for the last eight-nine years. I have no words to describe what I went through…it was a hellish time," said a visibly distraught Shekhar.
Asked what kept him going, he said, "My mother is with me."
Speaking about what Tiwari’s belated public acknowledgement, coming after years of public rejection and humiliation means to him, Shekhar said, "Today, my mother has been exonerated. What has happened is good for my mother. Let it sink in. The wounds will take time. I don’t trust him. Nothing is absolute. Don’t take the charm away from ambiguity. I am ambiguous about the future."
The long-drawn legal process has exacted heavy price, both emotionally and financially, from Shekhar and his mother. The case, says Ujjwala Sharma, has all but hijacked Shekhar’s professional and personal life.
"There were times when I told Rohit to withdraw the case because I was running out of patience. But he was determined to fight on. I worry because he gets very emotionally involved and his health has been compromised for life because of that. He suffered a heart attack and brain stoke at the age of 28," said Sharma.
Tiwari’s public gesture comes days after he had moved the Delhi High Court for an out-of-court settlement.
Describing the judicial process as pernicious, Shekhar says, the case has left him demoralised.
"I don’t know how I carried on. It must have been divine intervention. I don’t know how my mother carried on. She is very strong. Yesterday (during the meeting with Tiwari), I kept looking at her. I was dazed by her reaction. At the end of day, my mother was exonerated. I made him accept it. The ND Tiwari Vs Rohit Shekhar case should set a precedent," Shekhar said.
Disillusioned by the judicial process that even years after he filed the paternity suit and two years after a DNA test confirmed his claim is yet to pass its final decree, Shekhar’s keeps coming back to the need to reform India’s ‘clogged judiciary’.
"At a personal level, I feel a degree of relief, but as a litigant I don’t…I’ve learnt my lessons the hard way. My mother has suffered. We need more judges, more courts. Every litigant needs closure. I hope we have set a good example," he said.
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Updated Date: Mar 05, 2014 09:33:19 IST