In a setback for the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, a city court has issued summons to Haryana’s minister of state for sports and youth affairs Sukhbir Kataria on charges of forging voter identity cards in the last state assembly elections held in 2009. Kataria had won the election from the Gurgaon seat.
Judicial magistrate (first class) Kavita Kamboj issued the summons against the minister and 17 of his close relatives, including Devendra Rana, assistant advocate general of the state, on Friday.
Matdata Jagrookta Manch, an NGO run by Umesh Agarwal, a BJP candidate, had filed a complaint that the minister had allegedly forged documents to help his relatives acquire multiple voter identity cards.
The petitioner said the cards were made from different booths in the constituency. The complainant submitted that experts had confirmed the documents had the same handwriting as that of the minister. Through an RTI application, the petitioner had also found that photographs on the ration cards of applicants, produced for obtaining voter cards, were not original.
“We had made several complaints to officials concerned, including the police, but no one paid attention to our words. We have also filed a separate election petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the election, but that doesn’t cover the criminal charges, so we moved the district court,” said Agarwal.
The petitioner had contested the election as BJP candidate against Kataria. The court observed that “prima facie all the applicants have impersonated real people in order to cast votes.”
HT tried to contact the minister for comments but his mobile phone was switched off.
His secretary Karamvir Chhikara said the minister was away in Bhopal for a conference.
Kataria has to reply to the allegations of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and for violating sections of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1950.