Punjab education minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) secretary Daljit Singh Cheema has been summoned by a local court to appear in a case of forgery, filed by Socialist Party (India) vice-president Balwant Singh Khera against the SAD.
Taking a serious note of non-compliance of its earlier orders, the court of additional chief judicial magistrate Sumukhi told Cheema's counsel HS Dhami to ensure that he appeared in the court along with relevant record on August 28.
When the case up for hearing on Wednesday, Cheema's counsel produced a letter, in which Cheema had sought exemption as a witness since he was a party in the case. Khera's counsel Shakti Singh argued that Cheema should be treated as present as the letter produced before the court was signed by him.
"It proves that Cheema was aware of today's hearing but he did not bother to appear in person," he said. Accepting his argument, the court rejected the application filed under Section 315 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and directed Cheema to be present during the next hearing.
Khera had filed the petition in 2009, alleging that the SAD had committed forgery by keeping two contradictory constitutions, one that it had submitted with the Gurdwara Election Commission and the other with the Election Commission of India (EC).
Cheema's counsel had filed the same petition earlier also but it was rejected. His revision petition, too, was dismissed by the court of the additional sessions judge. Khera alleged that SAD was trying to delay the proceedings by making irrelevant excuses. "It will have to come clean on the issue. The party has committed a major fraud with the electorate," added Khera.
Others named in the petition are SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and district president Surinder Singh. Another petition filed by Khera in the Delhi high court, seeking de-recognition of the SAD, is scheduled for hearing on September 26.