The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench last week directed a couple, accused of manipulating birth records of their children to qualify for contesting local body elections, to deposit Rs 1.5 lakh as fine in its registry, which will be transferred to the Latur district collector for treatment for Covid-19 patients.
A single judge bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge was hearing an application by the couple, filed through advocate Suresh P Pandav, stating that while the court had directed that the fine be paid in March, in view of lockdown and inability to cross the district, the wife – the applicant in the case – could not deposit the amount.
The court had in March ordered the disqualification of the couple from contesting any election for having two children after the “cut-off date” of September 12, 2000, meant for zilla parishad and panchayat samiti members as per past HC judgments. They were disqualified by the additional divisional commissioner after it was concluded that the couple suppressed records of their two biological children (twins) who were born in 2006.
The court had noted that the petitioner’s husband had approached the Registrar of Birth for obtaining five birth certificates on a single day and that it was “apparent” that manipulations were done. While the first three children were shown to have taken birth within two years of each other – in 1994, 1996 and 1998 – the twins were shown to be born in December, 2000, instead of their actual birth date of June 24, 2006.
Refusing to pardon the couple, a single judge bench of Justice Mangesh S Patil in March had observed, “The request does not deserve to be entertained since the petitioner’s husband appears to have manipulated birth records of his children in reverse order by pushing back their dates of birth after obtaining five birth certificates on a single day. There appears to be mens rea and a systematic planning in what has been done. It would be a mockery of law and justice to pardon such litigants, who have not only abused the process of law, but have shown scant respect for the majesty of law and have manipulated even government officials.”
Initiating criminal action against the couple and disciplinary action against the official who had issued five birth certificates to the husband, the court had then directed the couple to pay Rs 1 lakh, along with Rs 50,000 as additional fine, for disobedience of court directions.
Last week, the couple submitted that the demand draft for the fine was ready and they were willing to deposit the same with the HC registry.
However, government lawyer R B Bagul opposed the application, contending that its intention was not to obey the earlier court order and action should be initiated against the couple.
After hearing submissions, Justice Ghuge allowed the application and directed that the demand draft be submitted as expeditiously as possible. While disposing the plea, it directed the registrar to transfer Rs 1.5 lakh to the Latur district collector for use of Covid-19 treatment.
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