Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar Resigns After Being Sent To Four-Day Police Custody In Fake Degree Case

09/06/2015 11:44 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
PRAKASH SINGH via Getty Images
Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Najib Jung (L) adminsters the oath to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Jitender Singh Tomar during the Delhi state swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on February 14, 2015. AAP president Arvind Kejriwal promised to make Delhi India's first corruption-free state and end what he called its 'VIP culture' as he was sworn in as chief minister before a huge crowd of cheering supporters. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar has resigned, bringing to a close a day of high drama starting with his arrest at 6 in the morning.

"Jitendra Singh Tomar has put in his papers a while back. CM Arvind Kejriwal has accepted the resignation," said Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia.

Tomar sent his resignation from the Hauz Khas police station, where he was taken after the court put him in judicial remand. He was reported to be in AIIMS for a medical checkup. "Earlier too I had offered resign, but you didn't accept it. This time I request you to please accept my resignation," he said in the letter, adding that he did not want the controversy to damage the image of the government or the party.

Earlier, he was sent to a four-day police custody by the local district court for allegedly possessing a fake law degree, while his colleagues in the government alleged this was a conspiracy hatched by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Tomar was arrested on Tuesday morning following an FIR lodged against him last night over his alleged fake law degree. AAP leader Sanjay Singh said that Tomar was arrested without any prior notice, a point that Tomar's lawyer made in the district court at Saket.

The police said that notice was served, but on the same day as the arrest. The court called this move a 'farcical exercise'. But the judge accepted the prosecutor's argument that they had proof of Tomar's fake degree, and that he should be in custody to prevent any tampering with the evidence, or influencing important witnesses given his position in the state government. Tomar has moved the Delhi High Court to quash the warrant.

In the evening, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia met finance minister Arun Jaitley, who also holds the information and broadcasting portfolio and is often perceived as the next most powerful minister in the cabinet after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Tomar's AAP colleagues supported him. Party leader Ashutosh blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sanjay Singh alleged that no notice was served, a point that was later clarified in court.

AAP spokesperson said that Tomar was arrested like a "terrorist."

The Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that Tomar’s undergraduate certificate from the Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University in Bihar, where he claimed to have received his undergraduate degree in law, is fake. In April, the university told the Delhi High Court that Tomar's law degree did not exist on record.

“The provisional certificate bearing No. 3687 allegedly issued to Mr. Tomar... appears to be fabricated with an attempt to give a legal status to the issuance of his degree for allegedly [being] a student of VNS Institute of Legal Studies, Munger, which lost its affiliation from 1990,” stated the report from the university.

But Tomar has rejected these accusations, and the Aam Aadmi Party-government has backed its minister's claim of his degree being authentic.

The Delhi police is controlled by the Home Ministry, and Singh's arrest comes in the midst of a power struggle between the AAP government and the centre over governing the capital which is a Union Territory.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has demanded "full statehood" for Delhi, has locked horns with Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung over appointments of officials in the capital.

READ: Chief Secretary Row Mishandled On Both Sides: Sheila Dikshit

READ: Tomar's Arrest Is Vendetta Politics By Modi: AAP Spokesperson

Ticking off the AAP government on Monday, Jung appointed M.K. Meena as the joint commissioner of Delhi's Anti Corruption Bureau above S.S. Yadav, who, AAP has pointed out, is the Additional Commissioner of the bureau. Citing sources, NDTV reported that it was Jung who signed the arrest order for Tomar.

In retaliation, the Delhi government transferred the senior official, Dharam Pal, who had signed the orders announcing Meena's appointment, and asked him to report to the Home Ministry. AAP also prevented Meena from joining his office, and informed him that there is only a post of Additional Commissioner of Police which is presently occupied.

Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused the central government of creating an "Emergency"-like situation in the capital because it was frightened by the AAP-government's crackdown on corruption.

Sisodia has also questioned the "conspiracy" behind creating a post of joint commissioner when none existing, and filling it with a "favourite" official.

Meena, Sisodia said, was the same officer who had investigated the death of the farmer from Rajasthan at the AAP protest rally in Jantar Mantar, and he had tried to "implicate" him by "falsely" reporting a "suicide as murder."

BJP and the Congress Party have been demanding Singh's resignation since the controversy sparked in April. Congress leader Ajay Maken said today that Singh should be removed from his position.

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