A little-known actress turned a TV studio into a courtroom and herself played the victim, jury and judge during a 'live' show in Bhopal after accusing an under-age hotel employee of touching her "inappropriately" while she was asleep in her room.
Khushi Mukherjee even slapped the minor boy on the TV show before police stepped in to take away the accused amid high drama on Friday evening.
The drama played out on the ETV channel, which brought the actress and the hotel staffer face-to-face during an 8 pm show. The minor's face was partially covered but the actress did not hide her identity.
During the show, Mukherjee shouted at the boy and accused him of touching her indecently at the hotel the night before.
"Your life will be ruined if you don't confess now. If you own up, I will pardon you," she was quoted as saying during the show by The Indian Express.
Mukherjee, who is said to have acted in a few Telugu movies, is in Bhopal to shoot her debut Bollywood film and had been staying in room 602 of Hotel Amar Vilas in MP Nagar for the past ten days.
As the show progressed, the actress turned more vocal and at one point slapped the minor even as the anchor looked on. The cowering boy was finally forced to "apologise" to Mukherjee.
Police finally appeared on the scene and took the accused away for questioning.
Besides ETV, the issue also figured on the Zee Madhya Pradesh channel. ETV also aired CCTV footage provided by the hotel that purportedly showed Mukherjee inebriated and struggling to stand on her feet.
Before the actress and the boy appeared on the live show, police had registered a case of sexual harassment and trespassing against the hotel employee under sections 354 and 456 of the IPC following a complaint by the actress.
The boy has denied the charges and said the actress was trying to gain publicity.
Mukherjee alleged that the boy had told her earlier that he "liked her" and had been "following" her for the past ten days.
In her complaint, the actress said she was asleep in her room when the boy allegedly entered at 3 am on Friday and touched her indecently after locking the room from inside.
"When I shouted, the boy ran away. People staying in other rooms came out after hearing my shout and they saw the boy going downstairs. I contacted the hotel staff at the reception and apprised them of the incident," the actress told Hindustan Times.
Mukherjee claimed the hotel's management refused to show her the CCTV footage when she asked for it.
"Later, some policemen came and took the boy and some hotel management staff to the police station. In the early morning, I got information that police have let off the boy," she said.
Refuting the allegations, the minor told the media that he was on duty on the sixth floor when he saw the door of the actress' room open.
"She was drunk completely like other days. But last night, she was lying on the ground and the door of her room was open. I first rang the bell of her room, but when she didn't respond I went inside and tried to wake her up her so that she could go to her bed after locking the door," he said.
The hotel's manager, Abdul Jameer, said Mukherjee was trying to defame the hotel and gain publicity for her upcoming movie.
"The boy had already informed the hotel reception before entering the actress' room. He did nothing wrong. We (have) already apologised to the actress if she felt hurt," he said.
Bhopal's deputy inspector general of police D Srinivasa Varma said, "We will look into the TV news channels' footage before taking any decision on legal action."
Former chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Children's Rights, Usha Chaturvedi, said under the Juvenile Justice Act, any child in conflict with law cannot be shown or paraded in public.
However, ETV's state editor Ajay Tripathi said the channel did its "job" after looking into all aspects of the issue.