A former Congress legislator was on Tuesday sentenced to two years in jail, six years after she displayed a morphed photograph of the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta in RSS uniform. The Lokayukta’s face was found to have been superimposed on that of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. A Bhopal court held Kalpana Parulekar, who was then Congress MLA from Mahidpur constituency in Ujjain district, guilty of forgery.
After participating in a discussion on a no-confidence motion in the winter session of the Assembly in 2011, the MLA had waved a photograph of then Lokayukta P P Naolekar during a press conference on the Assembly premises. She had alleged that the Lokayukta was saving corrupt BJP ministers because he was an RSS member, and waved the photograph as proof.
The BJP government refuted her charge and produced the photograph of Bhagwat, clicked at the organisation’s convention in Ranchi. In the photograph Bhagwat was flanked by two persons, Mahendra Mahato and Samika Pahan, and both deposed during the trial in a Bhopal court.
Naolekar dismissed the photograph but did not lodge any complaint himself. Special public prosecutor Prakash Sheode told The Indian Express that one Gopal Dandotiya lodged a written complaint in the cyber cell against Parulekar for displaying a morphed photograph.
The case was transferred to the CID, which filed the chargesheet in 2013. Parulekar was booked under sections of the IPC and Information Technology Act. The prosecution could not prove the charges under the IT Act. Parulekar was arrested in 2012. Naolekar deposed in court last year. Out of 42 witnesses, 18 were examined.
Third additional district and sessions judge Arvind Kumar Goyal convicted Parulekar under Sections 465, 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document), and sentenced her to two years in jail for each offence. All the sentences will run concurrently. She was also fined Rs 12,000.
Citing Article 194 of the Constitution, Parulekar’s lawyer argued that she enjoyed special privileges and cannot be prosecuted for what happens in the Assembly. The prosecution said that the privilege extended only to the proceedings in the House, not the venue of a press conference in the premises.
Parulekar, who was released on bail, said she would challenge the conviction in the high court.
In April this year, she was sentenced to one year in jail in a criminal defamation case filed by former Assembly principal secretary Bhagwan Israni. In a press conference in the Assembly premises in 2009, she had accused Israni of corruption and procuring a fake degree to retain a job.