Delhi AAP Law Minister alleged ‘fake degrees’ matter
Jitender Singh Tomar, the law minister of Delhi Government has been alleged to have taken his Delhi Bar Council enrollment on the basis of a fake degree. A Writ Petition was filed before the Delhi High Court by another lawyer – Santosh Kumar Sharma on the basis of an RTI inquiry from Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, Faizabad, U.P. from where Tomar claims to be a science graduate. KS Saket Postgraduate College in Ayodhya affiliated to the Faizabad University said that Tomar’s BSc second year mark sheet was fake and his degree invalid.
After this degree, Tomar had obtained an LL.B. degree from Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Studies College, Bihar.
|Court||Delhi High Court|
|Case||Santosh Kumar Sharma v. Bar Council of India & Ors.|
|Case No.||Writ Petition (Civil) N0. 1056 of 2015|
|Petitioner||Santosh Kumar Sharma|
Case was listed for the first time before Justice Rajiv Shakdher. Senior counsel Sanjay Poddar appeared for the Petitioner. Court issued notices to all the parties. Matter was listed for 27 April 2015.
In the meanwhile Petitioner filed an Application – CM No. 4304/2015 for withdrawal of the petition on the ground that there was an alternate remedy available with the Bar Council of Delhi. This surprised Justice Shakdher who said:
I am surprised that an advocate [Sharma] has filed the petition and now he wants to withdraw it. These are all tactics to pressurise people. It’s sad that you [Sharma] come like this”, and issued “court notice” to Tomar, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University (UP) and Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Study College (Bihar) for 27 April. (Legally India/PTI)
Indian Express reported that while the hearing was on, a group of lawyers, including Ajay Burman, Ripu Daman Singh and other members of the Bar, submitted arguments against withdrawal of the plea, claiming that “judicial scrutiny of a person who is a public figure should be conducted”. BCI counsel informed Court that BCI had already initiated an inquiry into the issue.
Court refused to allow the withdrawal application and again issued notices to the Delhi Bar Council, concerned Universities and the Election Commission of India.
This is a curious application moved by the petitioner, who otherwise, with all vehemence at his command, on the previous occasion, wanted to press the petition qua respondent no.5. By this application though, the petitioner seeks to withdraw the petition, ostensibly, on the ground that there is an alternate remedy available with the Bar Council of Delhi, i.e., respondent no.2.
In the usual and ordinary course, I would have thought that the petitioner would have waited for the respondent’s counter affidavit to come on record; as such an objection concerning alternate remedy one would have expected, if at all, the respondents to take. The respondents, have not filed their counter affidavit, as yet. Issue court notice, without process fee, to respondent no. 2 to 6.
Next date fixed: 27 April 2015 (as per previous hearing).
OFF THE COURT
14 March 2014: Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) issued a notice to Tomar and sought an explanation by March 20. Hindustan Times reported that as per BCD’s Honorary secretary Puneet Mittal, the inquiry was initiated after BCD received a complaint from advocate Ripudaman Singh Bhardwaj against Tomar seeking cancellation of his registration and initiation of criminal proceedings. The complaint also said that Tomar did not submit his provisional LLB degree and nor his attendance certificate while enrolling as an advocate. It said non-submission of requisite documents “show that essential norms as framed by Bar Council of India (BCI) for enrollment purpose have not been complied with”.
The Bar is of the view that the allegations are prima facie serious. If Tomar fails to give plausible explanation on the issue, we might also register an FIR. However, future course of action will be taken after his appearance.
20 March 2014: At the scheduled hearing at the office of BCD, Tomar was represented by his brother Narender Kumar Tomar, also an advocate, who sought time to file a reply. BCD granted four weeks’ time to Tomar and then one week to the complainant to file a rejoinder in the matter. [via Indian Express]
Election Petition challenges election
Meanwhile, BJP leader Nand Kishore Garg, who had fought the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls against Tomar from Trinagar constituency, approached Delhi High Court with an election petition challenging his election. Garg in his petition had alleged that the election was “materially affected by deliberate concealment, misrepresentation, wrong declaration and wilful suppression of the educational qualification in the affidavit filed along with the nomination form”. [Zee News]
Matter was first listed before Justice Hima Kohli who recused herself from hearing the plea on 23 March 2015.
The election petition was heard by Justice Manmohan who sought response from the Respondents and asked the Election Commission to “preserve the entire election records including the nomination form, affidavit accompanying
the nomination form, objections, pre-publication approvals of election materials and file the same with the Registry of the Delhi High Court”.
Tilak Manjhi Bhagalpur University from where Tomar claims to have studied law, submitted to the Court its inquiry report. The affidavit, filed by the university’s Inspector of Colleges, pointed out that on perusal of the inquiry report and of the university records, it was found that the provisional certificate purportedly issued to Tomar was issued to one Sanjay Kumar Chaudhary for B.A. (honours) political science examination held in 1998.
The report read:
The provisional certificate bearing No. 3687 allegedly issued to Mr. Tomar… appears to be fabricated with an attempt to give a legal status to the issuance of his degree for allegedly [being] a student of VNS Institute of Legal Studies, Munger, which lost its affiliation from 1990… [The Hindu]
“It is respectfully submitted that on the basis of the enquiry report, and in the university records, the provisional certificate bearing serial number 3687 was issued on July 29, 1999 to Mr Sanjay Kumar Chaudhary for BA (Honours) Political Science examination held in 1998.
Accordingly, the provisional certificate in the name of the respondent no. 5 (Tomar), is fabricated document and does not exist in the records of the university. [Indian Express]
Indian Express reported that the Bar members of Delhi, who wanted to be impleaded as a party in the petition, informed the court that they have received information from Avadh University that Tomar’s graduation degree is allegedly “fake”. The court had also sought reply from the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University (UP), from where the law minister said he had graduated in science.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher appointed Advocate Raj Shekhar Rao as amicus curiae in the case and also issued notice to petitioner Santosh Kumar Sharma who was absent in the Court, to be present on the next date of hearing.
Court further asked Bar Council of India and Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) to file their reply affidavits. It also asked BCD to file its enquiry report against Tomar by August 20.
Next Date: 2o August 2015
OFF THE COURT
11 May 2015 – BCD complains to Police, seeks action
Meanwhile, BCD filed a complaint against Tomar with the Delhi Police and and sought a probe into the case. In his letter to the DCP Hauz Khas area, BCD Secretary Puneet Mittal wrote:
The Bar Council of Delhi has observed that Jitender Singh Tomar has enrolled himself in the council as an advocate by misrepresenting the facts. Both universities claimed that the documents are forged. … It is, therefore, requested that a detailed preliminary enquiry may be conducted with respect to the alleged forged documents for commission of offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code. The report in this connection may be submitted before the council on or before May 28. [LI]
27 May 2015 – Law Institute claims Tomar a bonafide student; stay of BCD proceedings denied
It was reported that Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Study College in Munger affiliated to Manjhi University from where Tomar claimed to have taken a law degree filed an affidavit before the Delhi High Court certifying that Tomar was a “bonafide student”.
Tomar filed an application for the stay of the proceedings before Delhi Bar Council and submitted that BCD has not provided him copy of the inquiry report against him. However the application was not pressed during the court proceedings and was dismissed. Sr. Advocate Chandhiok who appeared for Tomar assured the court that Tomar will cooperate with the inquiry initiated by BCD.
Police investigates, finds degree ‘fake’
9 June 2015 – Arrest; Saket Court denies bail; Tomar resigns
On 9 June, Delhi Police arrested Tomar from his office. An FIR was registered against him under various sections of IPC: Section 420 (cheating), Section 467 (forgery), Section 468 (forgery with purpose of cheating) and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy). He was taken to Hauz Khas police station and subsequently to Vasant Vihar police station.
After the arrest, Tomar was presented before the duty Magistrate of the Saket Court. The prosecutor told the court that the college from which Tomar did his law degree in 1994-1998, was derecognised by the university in 1990 itself, and thus, there was no question that he completed his course from the college. It was further submitted that the provisional certificate of his alleged BSc degree was signed by one Rajendra Prasad and when the investigator met Prasad, he denied that he has signed any such certificate. It was further submitted that the Controller of Examination had also verified the fact that no degree or marksheet has been issued on the name of Tomar.
Tomar was represented by Senior Advocate HS Phoolka who was accompanied by advocates Rajiv Khosla and RK Wadhava. Phoolka said the person who has filed the complaint against Tomar in BCD, had deliberately given a false roll number. He further referred to the admission register of the college and said the principal of the college has said that Tomar was admitted to the college, he had appeared in examinations and had cleared them also.
The court however rejected the bail application of Tomar and remanded him to the police custody for four days.
Later in the evening, Tomar resigned from his post of cabinet minister of NCT of Delhi by sending his resignation to the CM Arvind Kejriwal.
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