Degree row: Irani in the dock; Cong, AAP demand her sacking

Degree row: Irani in the dock; Cong, AAP demand her sacking
HRD Minister Smriti Irani today faced a big embarrassment with a Delhi court taking cognizance of a complaint against her for allegedly misrepresenting educational qualifications in her elections affidavits, prompting Congress and AAP to demand her sacking.

Fixing the matter for hearing on August 28, Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain said, "It is held that the present complaint case is filed under limitation (of time). Cognizance is taken."

"The matter be now fixed for pre-summoning evidence on August 28," the Magistrate said in his order on a complaint was filed by freelance writer Ahmer Khan.

Khan alleged that Irani, in her three affidavits before the Election Commission (EC) while filing nominations for her candidature for Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha polls, had purportedly given different details about her educational qualifications.

Underer Section 125A of Representation of People Act, the penalty for filing false affidavit entails a jail term of upto six months or fine or both.

Training their guns on Irani, Congress and AAP demanded her removal, saying she has no "moral, constitutional or legal" right to continue on her post after the court order.

"It is apparent that the HRD minister is lying about her own education. What will happen to the future of millions of children in the country. Irani has no moral, constitutional or legal right to continue on her post even for a day," Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

He said that in 2004 Smriti Irani gave an affidavit when she was a candidate in Chandni chowk that she holds a bachelor degree of arts in 1996 from Delhi University while in 2011 when she filed a nomination of Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, she stated she holds a degree of 1994 from DU.

In 2014 during her nomination from Amethi, she said she is B Com from School of Open Learning in DU, he said.

Drawing parellels with the case of former Delhi law minister Jitender Tomar's degree, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too demanded the removal of HRD minister and said that there cannot be two "yardsticks".

"There cannot be two yardsticks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said had he does not take bribe and does not let others take bribe while he also said neither he did corruption nor he lets corruption happen. The rule of law is same for everybody, the constitution and democracy is same for everybody. If they believe Tomar should be arrested, why not Smriti Irani," AAP leader Ashutosh said.

Stepping up the heat, AICC spokesman Ajay Maken said the Prime Minister should sack Irani if she does not resign as she has given "false" details about her educational qualifications in election affidavits.

Coming to the Minister's defence, BJP blamed "typographical error" for the alleged false educational qualification information given by her.

It rejected any comparison between her and AAP leader Jitender Singh Tomar, who has been jailed in a fake degree case.

"One should know the difference between a fake document and a typographical error. This case is not for fake documents," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said after oppositon parties pressed for her dismissal.

Surjewala noted that it was "unfortunate" that the degress of both the education ministers (even the Minister of State for HRD) under the Modi government is under question of being forged.

"How does Modi government propose to run education when educational degrees of education ministers are under question. Naturally under any investigation, DU comes under HRD ministry. She definitely as Education minister will influence the conduct and course of investigation," he said.

Ashutosh said,    "In the Tomar case, they (Delhi police) arrested him. I do not see any reason why Delhi police should not arrest Smriti Irani. In the Tomar case, as the case developed, AAP asked him to resign. Will Narendra Modi as Prime Minister ask her to resign. Will Irani be arrested by delhi police," he said.

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