After carrying out relentless searches, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s bachelor’s degree seems to have consigned to oblivion by the University of Delhi. Failing to furnish documentary evidence of Irani’s educational qualifications, the Assistant Registrar of School of Open Learning (SOL), DU, Mr. O.P. Tanwar was quoted as saying, “1996 documents related to her BA are yet to be found,” as he addressed the court.
The varsity’s move came in response to the court’s earlier order for summoning the minister’s documents from its School of Open Learning department on the allegation of a discrepancy in the affidavits she filed in 2004 and 2011. While her 2004 affidavit claims that she completed her BA in 1996, another affidavit by her for the 2011 Rajya Sabha poll from Gujarat mentions her highest qualification as B.Com (Part I) from DU.
The case, which came into limelight following a complaint by Ahmer Khan, a freelance writer, Smriti Irani’s educational status has been in question ever since. The complainant had alleged that the HRD minister had deliberately produced false affidavits and thus is liable for punishment under relevant sections of IPC (Indian Penal Code) and under section 125A of Representation of the People Act (RPA). Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of upto six months or fine or both.
The Assistant Registrar also informed the court that Irani’s Class 12 documents, submitted along with the admission form of B.Com (H) course, were yet to be found. He was however quick to add that “verification must have been done before the admission”, as he was quoted by a national daily.
However, it seems like faking one’s educational degree is the new fad that’s become increasingly popular with our politicians and PM Narendra Modi has become the recent victim of this trend.
Talking about the issue, Teacher Representative of Executive Council, University of Delhi, Ms. Abha Dev Habib told us, “Whether it is the degree of the HRD Minister or the PM, it will be unfortunate if they make claims of having a degree they don’t hold in the first place. And it is strange that the university doesn’t have records. There is definitely pressure but this is nothing less than a blatant excuse. To me, degree doesn’t matter, but the ministers are the role models for the general public and information must be furnished by the varsity on the same.”
Commenting on the current state of the Ministry of Education’s working, she added, “I am not disappointed that she doesn’t have a degree, what I am disappointed with is the continuos interference of the ministry in the education system. The hasty implementation of CBCS system in less than 7 months is the biggest case in point. It is all about rational thinking and a scientific temperament to be able to take decisions, degree doesn’t matter here.” Also talking about the recent controversy surrounding the degree of PM Modi, she further connoted, ” The PM wants to talk to the nation on Mann Ki Baat but what perturbs me is his silence on issues of importance. Whatever the degree may be, it should be truthfully embraced.”
The court also asked SDM of north Delhi to bring documents filed by Irani with the affidavit for contesting 2004 polls from Chandni Chowk constituency here and fixed the matter for further hearing on June 6. The pivotal question here however remains whether power gives an easy escape route to politicians to distort their educational qualifications.
We previously did a report on the suspension of 5 officials of School of Open Learning for leaking documents related to the HRD Minister. You may take a look at the report here.
Image credits: timesofindia.indiatimes.com