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Complaint filed to needlessly harass Smriti Irani, says court

In a huge relief to Union textile minister Smriti Irani, a Delhi court on Tuesday dismissed a plea to summon her, observing that the petition accusing her of faking a degree was to “needlessly harass her.”

The court said that the fate of the case could be foreseen as “the original evidence has already been lost due to the passage of a number of years, and the secondary evidence would not withstand the test of judicial scrutiny.”

Dismissing the petition filed by Ahmer Khan, Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh said that there was a “great delay of 11 years” in filing the complaint. “The said delay could not be condoned as the complainant is not an aggrieved person and the complaint does not appear to have been filed for vindication of majesty of justice and maintenance of law and order.”

The court said that since the information falls under the purview of Sections 179, 181 and 182 of the Indian Penal Code, where the punishment is a maximum of three years, the limitation for filing a complaint is three years.

Ahmer Khan had filed a private complaint last year, accusing Irani of submitting contradictory results of her educational qualifications in her affidavit filed before the Election Commission (EC) for the three elections she contested for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in 2004, 2011 and 2014.

Over the course of the hearings, the EC had submitted that while the original 2004 election affidavit was misplaced, they had first submitted documents that were a copy of the file extracted from its official website and in the last hearing had submitted a certificate regarding authentication of the election affidavits filed by Irani in the 2004 election.

According to the petitioner’s counsels, the BJP leader had declared herself to be a graduate from the Delhi University’s School of Correspondence (1996 batch) in her affidavit filed for the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk constituency.

However, in yet another affidavit on July 11, 2011, for the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, Irani alleged that she had completed her B.Com (Part I) from the Delhi University’s School of Correspondence.

The petition added that in yet another affidavit filed during the 2014 Lok Sabha election that Irani contested from Amethi, in Uttar Pradesh, she allegedly said she did her B.Com (Part I) in 1994 from the Delhi University’s School of Open Learning.

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