Updated: April 13, 2019 10:47:28 am
The Congress on Friday filed a memorandum with the Election Commission of India (EC) and sought an “urgent and necessary intervention against deliberate, corrupt and wilful falsification of fact” by Union Minister Smriti Irani on her educational qualification.
The party asked the EC to initiate “appropriate proceedings” against the BJP leader.
Reacting to Congress’s attack, Irani said, according to PTI, “I have a message for them…as much as you try, I will work for Amethi against the Congress. No matter what you say, the more you harass me, the harder I’ll work.”
In its memorandum, the Congress told EC that Irani, who filed her nomination from Amethi on Thursday, stated in her affidavit that after school, she had enrolled with Delhi University’s Open Learning School for a correspondence Bachelor of Commerce degree, which she did not complete.
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This, the party stated, was different from her earlier affidavits. Listing the affidavits submitted by Irani for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections in 2004, 2011, 2014 and 2017, the Congress stated that in 2004, Irani had claimed her “educational qualification as Bachelor of Arts in 1996 from Delhi University, School of Correspondence”.
In 2011, her affidavit for contesting a Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat, stated she had enrolled in “B.Com. Part-I in 1994 from Delhi University, School of Correspondence”, the Congress stated.
In 2014, the Congress noted, Irani’s affidavit for Lok Sabha polls mentioned her educational qualification as “B.Com. Part-I in 1994 from School of Open Learning, Delhi University”. This is what Irani had also stated in her affidavits for Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat in 2017 and in her affidavit filed on Thursday.
Stating that the BJP leader has filed “falsified records” on her degrees and “submitted contradictory affidavits to ECI”, the Congress claimed that Irani had gone against Section 125A read with Section 33 of Representation of the People Act, 1950, “besides other offences under Indian Penal Code”.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi accused Irani of being a “serial liar”, and also sang the title track of the soap opera Kyuki saas bhi kabhi bahu thhi by changing the lyrics to “qualification ke roop badalte hain… (qualification keeps changing)”. Irani, an actor-turned-politician, played the lead role in the serial.
Stating that Irani should step down, and also be disqualified from contesting the polls for misleading people through her affidavits, Chaturvedi said, according to PTI, “Union Minister Smriti Irani, who had been rubbishing the Opposition’s claim that she is not a graduate, yesterday accepted that she enrolled for an undergraduate course in Delhi University but did not complete it…. We have no issue with the fact that Smriti Irani is not a graduate. The issue here is that she has lied repeatedly on oath and to the courts. People of India will see through these lies and give a befitting political reply to a ‘serial liar’.”
HC stay on revealing records stands
The stay on the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) orders — allowing inspection of Union Minister Smriti Irani’s class X and XII records under the Right to Information (RTI) Act – continues to remain in force.
By way of two different orders, the HC had stayed operation of CIC directions of December 23, 2016 and January 17, 2017 related to educational qualification of Irani on RTI pleas by R K Jain and Mohammad Naushaduddin.
On February 21, 2017, the court stayed the operation of the December 23, 2016 direction related to educational qualification of Irani on an RTI plea by Jain. Since then, the interim order is in force. The order of February 21, 2017 had stayed the January 17, 2017 order of the CIC. The CIC had asked CBSE to facilitate inspection of relevant records and provide certified copies of the documents to RTI applicant Naushaduddin.
The interim orders were passed after Delhi University and CBSE, in different petitions, appealed against the CIC’s order on the ground that school records of Irani cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act, as it was third party information held in fiduciary capacity.
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