Beauty pageants never have a shortage of drama – the latest being Steve Harvey announcing the wrong name in the Miss Universe 2015 and the dethroning Miss Puerto Rico 2016 because she had a “bad attitude”. In a first of its kind in this decade, a beauty pageant winner in India was dethroned from her title after being found guilty of fraud. Meera Mithun, model-turned-actress and winner of Miss South India 2016, a prestigious title in India, was officially uncrowned from the title on charges of fraudulent activities. Pegasus, the conductors of the pageant informed the decision in a post on the official Facebook page of Miss South India. Her deceitful actions came to light when a police complaint was filed against her on May 24thby a fashion designer. Meera convinced the complainant that the Miss Tamil Nadu pageant, another state level pageant owned by Pegasus, was being conducted under her supervision and defrauded the designer into paying her a sum of Rs.50,000 (approximately $750) as sponsorship fees.
Meera Mithun, also known as Thamizh Selvi, took to the Indian news media when the scandal surfaced claiming that she received death threats and said that there were attempts to obstruct her from conducting her own newly formed pageant. “I am receiving death threats and my phone has been hacked. My sponsors and models are also being threatened”, she said in a statement to the press. Pegasus has denied the claims. She has registered a police complaint due to it.
Miss Tamil Nadu pageant was licensed to Meera Mithun in 2017 but Pegasus decided to give the licensing agreement to another event organizing firm. However, Meera continued to use the title and logo of Miss South India and Miss Tamil Nadu. She might face charges on copyright violation and trademark infringement for the unauthorized usage of the pageant’s title and logo along with charges on fraud and deception. It was later discovered that she had lied about her age in the application.
Meera also protested the decision that the Miss South India 2016 title has been taken away from her. “I came to know that they are taking away my title. It is not possible for them to do that. I am going to move against them by filing a case as soon as my pageant gets over”, she said to the press.
In a statement made by Dr. Ajit Ravi, the founder and chairman of Pegasus, he had said that they have the right to do so as per the binding contract signed by Meera Mithun for participating in Miss South India 2016. “It is wrong for someone to personally attack an individual who opened doors of opportunities for their upbringing. The media was biased in this issue and should cover incidents based on facts. We have all the proofs for her wrong-doing whereas she has none to back up her claims. Even the age she filled in the application turned out to be false and now we’re hearing news that she was married and divorced, which would have made her ineligible to participate in the pageant. Since she does not have any proofs to back up any claims against me, she now plays the ‘woman card’ and is trying to create an issue by claiming regional discrimination. We are all Indians and I have dedicated my life uplifting Indian women in this industry irrespective of where they come from”, he added.
(Title Image Courtesy: Miss South India facebook page)