The Murky Legal Histories of BJP’s New Governors

Banwarilal Purohit, the newly appointed governor of Assam listed four cases against him in an affidavit from 2009. Credit: Daily Excelsior/ Facebook

Banwarilal Purohit, the newly appointed governor of Assam listed four cases against him in an affidavit from 2009. Credit: Daily Excelsior/ Facebook

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government appointed four senior BJP leaders as state governors on Wednesday. A quick look at the background of three among them shows that they have all had run-ins with the law.

While one was reprimanded by the Lok Sabha’s ethics committee for forgery, another listed four cases against him in the affidavit he filed for his candidature for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Yet another was charged with morphing a photograph in a case tried by the Delhi high court.

The BJP might have made a hue and cry when Aam Aadmi Party MP, Bhagwant Mann recently uploaded a video showing the road that leads to Parliament and even some of its rooms; but on August 15, 2005, as a BJP Lok Sabha MP, the newly appointed Punjab governor V.P. Badnore was found guilty of breaking security rules at the Parliament.

Badnore forged a parliamentary car parking label for his car when his other vehicle, with the original parliamentary parking sticker, was undergoing repair work.

Caught by the parliament’s security personnel, Badnore was referred to the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha. It was a serious offence considering the terrorists who attacked parliament in 2001 also used forged car park labels to enter the high security premises. Thereafter, radio frequency tags, which could be read by the security system at the gates, were introduced. However, at the time of this incident, Badnore had not yet been issued one of the new tags, a loophole he tried to exploit but got caught for.

According to a report in The Telegraph on Thursday, Badnore told the committee that the incident was a sting operation to check the security of the parliament. The news report said though the committee recommended that the matter be closed as there was no ulterior motive, it, however, noted, “It appears that this elaborate exercise was less of [a] sting operation and more of an endeavour on the part of the member to secure entry into Parliament House Annexe on a fake car park label as his car with [the] valid car park label had gone for repairs.”

Badnore forged the car park label to get dropped inside the complex even though he had the option of getting off at the gates and walking in to parliament.

The act of forgery didn’t dampen his status in the party though, since the BJP gave him a Lok Sabha ticket again in 2009. However, he did lose the election.

So did the newly appointed Assam Governor and a veteran Congress-turned-BJP leader from Nagpur, Banwarilal Purohit.

  Banwarilal Bhagwandas Purohit’s affidavit

According to the affidavit that Purohit submitted to the returning officer when he was contesting an election from Nagpur, Purohit said, “The following cases are pending against me in which cognisance has been taken by the court” and went on to list the following:

  • Section 171 (H) (I) of IPC (Criminal case No.618/99, State vs Banwarilal and one)
  • Section 188 r/w 34 of IPC and Section 135 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951. (criminal case no 898/99 state vs Rajendra and others)
  • Section 447, 379 read with section 34 of IPC (Criminal case no 107/04 state vs Banwarilal and one)
  • Section 465, 467,471 read with section 34 of IPC. (criminal complaint case no.307/1995)

He also mentioned the names of the courts which had taken cognisance of these cases:

  • Judicial Magistrate, First Calss Court, Kuhi district, Nagpur on 6.8/1999;
  • Judicial Magistrate First Class, UMRER district, Nagpur on 1/10,1999;
  • Judicial magistrate First Class Court No.6 , Nagpur on 22/6/2004;
  • Judicial Magistrate First Class Court, No 6, Nagpur on 30/09/2006

While Section 379 is related to cases of theft, Section 465  relates to forgery. Section 467 deals with cases related to the forgery of valuables, wills, et cetera; Section 471 is used in cases when a forged document or electronic record is used as the genuine version. Section 447 is against criminal trespass and Section 34 is evoked when several people act on a common interest to commit a crime. While Section 171 deals with allegations of wearing a garb or token used by a public servant with fraudulent intent, Section 188 tackles public servants who disobey orders.

The Wire was unable to ascertain the current status of these cases at short notice. However, the 2009 affidavit mentions that an “application for discharge is pending” in the third case.  It said, “The state of Maharashtra has also recommended for withdrawal of case” in May 2006.

Attempts to contact both Badnore and Purohit were unsuccessful. The story will be updated as and when we receive a response.

Meanwhile, Najma Heptullah, the third senior BJP leader to be named governor on Wednesday, was also once accused of forgery in a case before the courts in 2014.

Feroz Ahmed Bakht, a grand nephew of Maulana Abdul Azad, filed a petition in the Delhi high court alleging that Heptullah, then the head of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, chose a morphed photo of herself with Azad for an ICCR publication on Azad titled Journey of a Leader. The caption of the 1958 photo said, “Najma Heptullah with Maulana Azad after her graduation.”

An official enquiry later found that while Heptullah graduated in May 1958, Azad passed away in February that year. ICCR later withdrew the publication.

The Delhi high court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to get to the bottom of it. Subsequently, the CBI informed the court that the allegation could not be “substantiated” due to lack of evidence. The court was also told that the matter was sent to the department “for taking such action as deemed fit in the matter.”