This Article is From Jun 24, 2015

Setback for Minister Smriti Irani in Case Over Her College Degree

File Photo of Smriti Irani (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: A Delhi court has accepted a complaint that union minister Smriti Irani misrepresented her educational qualifications, triggering strong calls for her resignation from the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, whose Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested earlier this month on charges of faking his Law degree.

The complaint against Ms Irani, 39, was described by a Delhi High Court as "maintainable"; the next hearing has been set for August 28.

"She has not been summoned and she is not an accused," said Ms Irani's lawyer, Anil Soni.

The case against the politician has been filed by a freelance writer Ahmer Khan who alleges that Ms Irani has made contradictory claims about her college education in documents filed in different years with the Election Commission.

"It's not a problem to be less educated or be uneducated... but it's a big issue that she is not being honest despite being the Human Resources Development Minister," said Mr Khan.

His complaint says that in April 2004, Ms Irani had said that she completed her BA in 1996 in a long-distance or correspondence program from Delhi University. Then, last year, ahead of the national election which she contested unsuccessfully from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Ms Irani allegedly said that she had completed a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from the School of Open Learning, Delhi University.

"I hope the Centre will show the same alacrity in action against Ms Irani as it did with the arrest of Jitender Singh Tomar," said Raghav Chadha of the Aam Aadmi Party or AAP, which governs Delhi.

Earlier this month, Mr Tomar, accused of forging college documents and a law degree, was arrested in what AAP alleges amounts to political vendetta. The party said that Mr Tomar was being investigated by a court for lying about his educational degrees and the Delhi Police's action, ordered by the union government, amounts to gross over-reach.