Jitender Singh Tomar’s Fake Degree Controversy

Jitender Singh Tomar’s Fake Degree Controversy

Jitender Singh Tomar’s Fake Degree ControversyThe “Fake Degree” case involving former Law Minister of Delhi, Jitender Singh Tomar, started as early as February when a Delhi-based advocate, Santosh Kumar Sharma, filed a writ petition with the Delhi High Court. The petition stated that Tomar had provided false credentials in his nomination before being elected MLA for the Aam Aadmi Party from the Trinagar Constituency.

In his petition Sharma said that Tomar had falsified his educational degrees. Tomar claimed to be a lawyer holding a law degree from the Biswanath Singh Institute of Legal Studies College in Munger (affiliated to the Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University). To enroll in this college, the petition said, Tomar had used a fake BSc degree from RML Avadh University (Faizabad). On the basis of his law degree, Tomar had enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD).

Inquiries and Investigations

In March, when Tomar was sworn in as Law Minister for the Government of Delhi (under CM Arvind Kejriwal), Sharma sought to withdraw his petition but was disallowed by the Delhi High Court. The court also asked the BCD and the Bar Council of India (BCI), apart from the Election Commission to investigate into the complaint. Meanwhile, the court also sought to verify the genuineness of Tomar’s degrees with the RML Avadh University and the BSILS College.

The case took an ugly political turn when BJP’s legal cell also filed a complaint against Tomar with the BCD. Tomar then sought time to file certified copies of his degrees with the BCD. When this showed no sign of happening, the BCD decided to involve the Delhi Police in early May. The responsibility of verifying the university’s certification and the degrees was entrusted to police authorities.

Arresting Jitender Singh Tomar

Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested by the Delhi Police on 9 June, 2015, and charged with fraud and cheating. An FIR was registered at the Hauz Khas Police Station in Delhi. Even as the case started to heat up, Tomar resigned from the position of Delhi’s Law Minister. As the police started investigations, a number of inconsistencies and inaccuracies soon started to surface. During the course of its investigation, Delhi Police said that Tomar had been taken to the institutions that he claimed to be his Alma Mater – the RML Avadh University and the BSILS College. Tomar reportedly failed to recognise the layout of any of these institutions. Soon, though the BSILS College authorities testified to his attendance and study at the college while the Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University to which the college is affiliated denied Tomar’s credentials. The episode took many political turns and accusations were exchanged as the nation watched. On 11 June, Tomar had applied for bail but the Sessions Court had deferred the hearing on bail plea for 16 June.

AAP Reaction

The Aam Admi Party’s reaction to the Jitender Singh Tomer fake degree case has been fairly predictable. The party claims that Tomer’s case will be investigated and judged by its own internal Lokpal.

The party had initially gone all out to support Tomar and had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of political vendetta in the case. Even as former IPS Officer Kiran Bedi made a statement that the arrest had been made after finding proof, AAP workers had initially raised slogans against BJP and said that Tomar was being targeted. The party, however, faced much criticism on Social Media platforms such as Twitter. AAP chief, Arvind Kejriwal and other party members have been considering Tomar’s removal, said some news reports. Any such action in AAP, however, can only follow a probe by the Lokpal.

Search for the Accomplices

After about a week of political drama that ensued following his arrest, Jitender Singh Tomar finally admitted to falsifying his academic records, said news reports on 16 June. He also withdrew his bail plea. Tomar admitted that the false degrees were provided to him by two agents – one from Delhi and another from Munger. The police had earlier suspected the involvement of a woman in the case. Tomar said he had been introduced to these agents, Madan and Vinod, by his brother PS Tomar who had been a practicing advocate with the BCD. The Delhi Police believes that the racket goes far beyond Tomar himself. It has been suggested that there is a nexus that supplies candidates with fake degrees for a considerable sum. Tomar’s case has led to the launch of a full scale investigation into falsification of educational degrees in the capital, said the police.

Fake Degrees Galore

Following the Tomar fake degree expose, a number of media reports have revealed that fake educational degrees have flooded the capital city and many other parts of the country. According to India Today, there are complaints against 300 fake doctors in Delhi NCR region, and action against these is pending with the Delhi Police department.

Earlier last year, the University Grants Commission of India (UGC) had issued a list of about 21 institutions posing as universities and issuing candidates with fake degrees for a fee. Almost half these fake universities are based in Uttar Pradesh. Despite the list having been released, not much has been done to curb their functioning.

Jitendra Singh Tomar is also not the only Indian politician to be shrouded in a fake degree controversy. A few months ago, Congress President Sonia Gandhi was reported to have faked her educational degree from the University of Cambridge. Leading politician Subramanian Swamy challenged her degree at the Supreme Court.

In a country like India, where education comes at a premium, politicians are not required to be educated or hold degrees. Cases such as this, however, open up to the common man the possibility of obtaining a fake degree for a meager price creating more opportunities for corruption, and inefficiency. It is time the courts and the people of India take a firm stand.