Jitender Tomar's fake degree row: Delhi Police says 'well-prepared' to defend arrest
Tomar, the law maker elected to Delhi Assembly from Tri Nagar constituency was quizzed at Anti Auto Theft Squad (AATS) office in Vasant Vihar and has been presented a before a duty magistrate at Saket Court.
New Delhi: A day after the AAP government raised the issue of 2002 CNG fitness test scam alleging that L-G Najeeb Jung tried to protect three bureaucrats “involved” in the financial irregularity by denying sanction to prosecute them, Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested by the Delhi Police in the wee hours on Tuesday in connection with his fake law degree case.
The arrest was made on a criminal complaint filed by the Bar Council of Delhi against the minister on Monday evening, and the minister has been remanded to four days police custody.
The police took Tomar into custody at 1.30 am on Tuesday, and booked him under sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery with purpose of cheating), 467 (forgery) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The law maker elected to Delhi Assembly from Tri Nagar constituency was quizzed at Anti Auto Theft Squad (AATS) office in Vasant Vihar and has been presented a before a duty magistrate at Saket Court.
The Delhi Police is “well-prepared” to strongly defend the arrest in the court. “Mr Tomar was interrogated at AATS office and we tried to connect all dots to strongly defend the arrest in the court. We will try our best to take his remand for at least five days,” a senior Delhi Police officer told Firstpost.
When asked about the reasons behind the arrest, he said the minister was not cooperating in the investigation. Asked why the minister was not served any notice before the arrest, he said, “He (Tomar) was summoned last evening under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), which empowers an investigating officer to seek attendance of the accused or witness of a case.”
On the other hand, the defence is trying to secure bail because if it is denied by the court, the government will be on a the back foot and will have to sack the minister.
Describing the sequence of the arrest, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia called the arrest “illegal” and an act of “revenge” by the central government.
“At least 30-40 police officials arrested Tomar from his MLA office. They first asked the minister to accompany them to his residence on the pretext of examining some documents. On the way, a police man occupied the driver’s seat and he was asked to tell someone to bring the documents at police station because he has been detained,” he told reporters, adding that Tomar was arrested like he was a “mafia don” or had carried out a “bomb blast” somewhere in the city.
“This is being done to teach us a lesson,” said the deputy chief minister adding that hours after the file on the case (the CNG fitness scam) was forwarded by his office, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung had created a new post in the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and appointed a new official to take charge of it.
“There has been an attempt to create an Emergency-like situation soon after I approved the file (to re-investigate the scam),” he said, reiterating that his government will not spare any corrupt official because it has got a “massive mandate of the people to root out corruption”.
The arrest raises many questions: Was the police action really necessary when the case is currently sub-judice and being heard in the Delhi HC? Is the action against the AAP leader political vendetta or is it a case of the Centre trying to warn the Kejriwal-led government not to go against the Lt Governor in the Rs 100 crore CNG fitness test scam?
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde termed the arrest “unprecedented” and a “political vendetta”. “I do not know any other fellow who has ever been arrested on the charges of fake degree. The Supreme Court has time and again said that the arrest is not a routine matter,” he told Firstpost.
He said he was at loss as to why the police was in such a “hurry” to take the minister into custody without serving him a notice with sufficient time.
Asked about the Smriti Irani’s case, he replied, “Forget about the arrest. The basic requirement of having a proper degree to hold the office of the HRD was given a damn.”
However, Advocate Sidharth Luthra, former additional solicitor general of India, says there is no problem with the arrest on technical grounds. “Technically, the arrest is possible. He (the minister) did not even get relief from the Delhi High Court,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Legal Studies based in Bihar’s Munger district, where Tomar claimed to have studied law – had filed an affidavit before the Delhi High Court certifying that Tomar was a “bonafide student”. The affidavit came a month after the Tilka Majhi University, Bhagalpur — the varsity with which the college that had issued the law degree is affiliated — filed an affidavit stating that the provisional certificate filed by the minister before the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) did not match its records.
In a reflex action against the Central government, the Delhi government has transferred Home Secretary Dharam Pal for allowing Joint Commissioner of Police Mukesh Kumar Meena to take charge of the anti-corruption branch as per the orders of the Lt Governor Jung.
Earlier, the Directorate of Vigilance of the GNCTD had urged Meena to go back to the Delhi Police because “there is no sanctioned post (of a Joint CP rank) in the ACB”. But defiant Meena refused, and took additional charge adding that he will “act as per law” and has “order from the competent authority”.
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