Law minister’s ‘fake’ degree row: HC disallows move to withdraw plea

The court issued notices to the Bar council of India, Election Commission and the universities where Tomar has claimed to have received his education.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: March 14, 2015 2:00:28 am

The Delhi High Court on Friday disallowed the withdrawal of a plea against Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar, which alleged that Tomar had enrolled himself as an advocate on the basis of a “fake” graduation degree.

By evening, things got grimmer for the law minister with the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) also issuing him a showcause notice. The Bar notice came on the basis of a report it received from Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, Faizabad, UP, that the degree, marksheets and roll numbers submitted to the BCD were “completely fake”.

“We had asked for a verification report from the university and the graduation certificate was found to be fake. We have issued a showcause notice to Tomar and may also lodge an FIR,” Bar Council secretary Puneet Mittal said.

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The court in the morning took a serious view of the allegation against Tomar and issued notices to Tomar, the Bar Council of India (BCI), the BCD and the two universities – Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University and Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Study College (Bihar) – where Tomar has claimed to have studied.

The court had on February 4 asked for responses from Tomar, the BCI and the BCD on the plea filed by advocate Santosh Kumar Sharma. In his plea, Sharma claimed that Tomar had submitted a “fake and bogus” undergraduate degree in science from Avadh University to get enrolled in the Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Studies College. He was enrolled as a lawyer by the BCD on the basis of a law degree from this college.

Sharma had approached the court on Friday morning to withdraw his plea, but the court of Justice Rajiv Shakdher refused his application saying it was a “serious issue”.

During the court hearing, 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”.

Terming the petition filed by Sharma a “curious petition”, the High Court bench also pulled up Sharma for trying to withdraw the plea, commenting that it seemed to be a “tactic” to “pressurise people”.

Advocate Preet Pal Singh, appearing for the BCI, also told the court that the lawyer’s body has initiated an inquiry into the issue. The court has now directed the BCI as well as all other parties to file their responses by April 27.

If the degree is proved fake, Tomar potentially faces not only disbarment and removal from rolls as a lawyer, but also criminal proceedings for forgery and cheating.

BCI chairman Manan Mishra said the BCI had called for all records from the Delhi Bar Council earlier this week to look into how Tomar was enrolled. “We will examine why this degree was not verified earlier. We have asked for all records relating to his enrolment,” he said.

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