Following the directions of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Amritsar district administration has maintained that it would proceed against local bodies minister Anil Joshi within 30 days of receiving the records pertaining to him and eight of his relatives for having obtained fake voter ID cards by registering as voters from more than one place.
Deputy commissioner (DC) Ravi Bhagat, also the district election officer (DEO), said, “I received a fax from the office of the chief electoral officer (CEO) on Thursday. I have yet to get the all files forwarded by the ECI to the CEO.”
He said he would go by the directions of the ECI, which has set 30 days deadline for taking necessary action against the minister. The DC further said as per the directions, he would seek the opinion of district attorney (DA-legal) and proceed accordingly.
He, however, said the ECI had not asked for any inquiry into the case related to the minister and his relatives. The inquiry has already been done and the report submitted to the ECI by the Jalandhar divisional commissioner.
Bhagat said the case against Joshi was that of breaching the oath he took at the time of filing nomination papers for the January 2012 assembly polls, which he contested from Amritsar North segment. The minister had sworn in that he was a voter from just one place, while he was found to have enrolled as a voter from more than one place at the time of contesting the polls.
“Whether a case against Joshi and his relatives will be registered at a police station or in a judicial court, it will depend on the advice of the DA legal,” Bhagat said.
Joshi had got himself enrolled as a voter from Golden Avenue area. In the same year, he also enrolled as a voter from Medical Enclave area where he presently resides.
The complainants, Sandeep Gorsi and Vaneet Mahajan, both city-based lawyers, had claimed that Joshi was a voter from two places when he won his first assembly polls from Amritsar North in 2007. While the Golden Avenue vote was deleted in 2008, the Medical Enclave vote still exists.
They had alleged that the vote in Golden Avenue locality was prepared on the basis of forged documents by Joshi. No house existed on the address mentioned against Joshi's name in the electoral rolls.
The two had also claimed that even during the 2012 polls, Joshi and his family members had been registered as voters from two places. The Joshi clan was also registered as voters of Tarn Taran, their ancestral town.
Contents of fax
“Necessary action may be taken in accordance with the directions of the ECI and advice of the DA legal in the complaint against minister Anil Joshi and others,” the fax sent by the Punjab CEO says.
While Sections 17 and 18 of the RP Act specify that no person will be registered as a voter in more than one place, Section 31 pertains to a candidate making a false declaration in writing before the election authorities at the time of filing nomination that he or she is a registered voter at only one place or in one assembly/parliamentary constituency.
The others against whom the district authorities will proceed after taking legal opinion are his wife Monika Joshi, brother Rajesh Kumar, a member of Tarn Taran municipal committee, mother Puspa Rani, and relatives Vijay Kumar, Punam Joshi, Mamta, Varinder and Jyoti.
CEO silent on action against poll officials
Though the ECI in its January order had asked the CEO to take “disciplinary action” against the election officials of Amritsar and those found responsible for the lapse, the fax made no mention of this.
The lapses on the part of the ERO and other officers were listed in an inquiry report which is with the commission. The inquiry into certain “missing records and documents” relates to the enrollment of the minister at more than one place was made by the Jalandhar divisional commissioner.
“It is obvious that the local administration is trying to help the minister by withholding information and even by destroying the evidence,” the ECI in its order observed.
In the dock
· The issue came to the fore after two city-based lawyers claimed that Joshi had registered as a voter from two places during the 2007 assembly polls he contested from Amritsar North segment
· They alleged that the vote in Golden Avenue locality was prepared on the basis of forged documents as no house existed on the address mentioned in Joshi's name in electoral rolls
· A probe was done by Jalandhar divisional commissioner into the matter and the charges were substantiated in his report submitted to the ECI
· The case against Joshi is that of breaching the oath he took at the time of filing nomination papers that he was a voter from just one place