DHARAMSHALA: A Chamba court on Friday sentenced All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumari to one-year jail in a land grab case dating back to 1998. She was, however, granted bail in the evening.
Kumari, a former state education minister, was accused of manipulating revenue records, fabricating wills and transferring 60 bighas of government forest land in the name of her husband, Brijender Singh.
The court of special judge Padam Singh found Kumari guilty of criminal conspiracy and handed down the jail term besides slapping a fine of Rs 8,000.
There were 13 accused in the case, six of whom including Kumari’s husband, have since died.
The court also sentenced six others, including four revenue officials.
Others convicted in the case are Pushp Raj Gulati and Prakash Chand, Dharam Chand and Chet Ram, both retired naib tehsildars, retired patwari Mehar Singh and Balwan, a kanungo (revenue official, who is still in service.
Gulati and Chand were sentenced to one-year jail and fined Rs 8,000 each, while the four revenue officials were sentenced to three-year imprisonment with a fine of Rs 9,000 each.
18 YEARS AGO
On August 6, 1998, former Dalhousie municipal councillor Kuldeep Singh had filed a complaint against Kumari and the others.
The state vigilance bureau had registered a first information report (FIR) under Sections 420 (cheating), 467, 468, 471 (forgery) 218 (public servant framing incorrect records) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act on December 15, 2001.
On January 4, 2005, the accused were charged by a court in Chamba after which Asha Kumari had to resign as education minister.
Kumari moved the Himachal Pradesh high court challenging the trial court order, which granted her relief, saying she had been “denied an opportunity of being properly heard”.
However, the Supreme Court, on December 2, 2011, confirmed the charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery and set aside the high court order giving relief transferring the case to the Kangra court from Chamba and giving relief to Kumari.
The trial court again framed charges against her and other accused on August 14, 2012.
Aug 6, 1998: Complaint filed against Asha Kumari and 12 others, including husband Brijender Singh
Dec 15, 2001: Vigilance bureau registers FIR in the case under various sections of IPC and PC Act.
January 4, 2005: Special court frames charges against the accused
December 2, 2011: Supreme Court confirms charges against Kumari
August 14, 2012: Special court frames charges in the case
Who is Asha Kumari?
Born in Madhya Pradesh, Asha Kumari was married to Brijender Singh, the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Chamba
She is the founder member of the National Student Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress
She was elected to the Himachal Pradesh assembly in 1985 and again in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2012
Remained minister of state for primary education (1995–98) and education minister from 2003-05
At present, Kumari holds the post of AICC secretary.
ourt also sentenced seven revenue officials, three of them have been given one year in prison each and other four to three years of imprisonment each.
Thirteen people had been accused in the case, but Kumari’s husband and six others have since died.
The complaint had been filed nearly 18 years ago by Kuldeep Singh, a former municipal councillor. The state vigilance bureau had registered an FIR (first information report) on December 15, 2001, and on January 4, 2005, the accused were charged by a court in Chamba.
But Kumari later moved high court, which granted her relief, saying she had been “denied an opportunity of being properly heard”.
However, the Supreme Court on December 2, 2011, confirmed the charges of “cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery” and set aside the high court relief to Kumari.
The trial court had framed charges against her on August 14, 2012.