PATNA:Politicians craving law degrees to enhance their statures as lawmakers is not new, but the recent controversy about Delhi’s Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar has brought another embarrassment to the Aam Aadmi Party, known for always claiming the high moral ground. The BJP has been claiming that Tomar’s law degree from a Bihar university is fake.
Confirming the BJP’s allegations, Tilaka Manjhi Bhagalpur University (TMBU) in Bhagalpur has said that Tomar’s provisional degree appeared to be fabricated as the university does not have any record of it. “We have already submitted an affidavit before Delhi High Court that the law degree with the serial number 3687 is of BA (Political Science) degree of Sanjay Kumar Choudhary, a student of R S College, Tarapur,” said Eqbal Ahmed, the university’s public relations officer. Tomar’s certificate stating that he is a law graduate bears the same serial number and was issued on July 29, 1999.
Refuting allegations of political bias, Ahmed says, “The university is an autonomous institute and a probe was done by competent authorities.”
On the other hand, the Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Studies (BSILS) in Bihar’s Munger town stated that Tomar did study there. The law college falls under TMBU.
BSILS principal R K Mishra told The Sunday Standard, “Since the matter is sub judice, I can’t become judgmental on the issue. All I can say is that he was a student of our college between 1994 and 1998. However, he didn’t appear for the third year examination and sat for it the next year. The college tabulation register shows him as a student here.” Tomar had joined BSILS after graduating from Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh.
Controversies related to law degrees in Bihar is not new. In 2005, then RJD MP and strongman Shahabuddin appeared for an examination in Muzaffarpur. At that time, Shahabuddin was wanted by police in a number of criminal cases and a nationwide alert had been sounded for his arrest. However, it later came to light that someone else had taken the exam for Shahabuddin. The principal of Muzaffarpur’s S K Memorial Silver Jubilee Law College, Jayant Singh, and RDS College principal Tauheed Alam, were arrested for helping the MP in the exam.
Prominent Bihar politicians with law degrees include former chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and former MLA Vijay Kumar Shukla, better known as Munna Shukla, who was convicted in a murder case.
Senior lawyer and member of Bihar Law Commission Uma Shankar Prasad says that a floodgate of law colleges in the state have made getting a law degree very easy. There are more than two dozen colleges affiliated to various universities in Bihar.