Running foul of the law, local bodies minister and BJP leader of legislature in the assembly, Bhagat Chunni Lal, has issued identity cards using the national emblem as part of his stamp to 125 party workers in his constituency.
The minister organised a lavish New Year party for BJP workers in his constituency on December 30. In the presence of senior leaders of the SAD-BJP ruling alliance, identity cards with national emblem as part of his stamp (a copy of which is with HT) were distributed to party workers to provide them with a 'special identity'.
The move was seen as an attempt to please disgruntled elements within the local BJP over 'denial' of posts in the Jalandhar municipal corporation.
When contacted by HT, state party Chief Ashwani Sharma said "I am not aware of the issue, but yes, if the national emblem has been used on the I-cards issued to party workers, it is definitely illegal. Leaders should stay away from needless controversies that lead to a poor image of the party among the public."
BJP district president Subhash Sood, in whose presence, such I-cards were distributed, termed the act as 'inadvertent mistake and an 'error of omission'.
"Perhaps the draft of the card was wrongly printed. The minister might not have noticed it before finalising the card," he said in an unconvincing manner.
The minister's son Mohinder Bhagat admitted to the 'mistake' of using the national emblem and said that all such I-cards stood withdrawn with immediate effect.
"The new cards will be issued by the mandal president of the party, instead of the minister as the issuing authority," he clarified.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress has demanded the registration of a case against the minister.
"We will complaint to the state governor and demand strict action against the minister for undermining the dignity of national emblem," Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) secretary Varinder Sharma told HT.
Meanwhile, legal experts, on the condition of anonymity, said that inappropriate use of the national emblem was a violation of State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005, which can attract a two-year prison sentence and/or a fine up to Rs. 5,000. They claimed that the using the emblem on I-cards of a political party was definitely a contravention of the law.