October 5th, 2017
A Bhopal court on 3 October awarded two years rigorous imprisonment to former Congress MLA Kalpana Parulekar in a case of morphing a photograph of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, reported The Indian Express. The case is six years old and had taken place in 2011. She was found guilty of forgery.
She was however, granted bail after the court pronounced the sentence. In April this year, she was sentenced to one year in jail in a criminal defamation case filed by former Assembly principal secretary Bhagwan Israni. In a press conference in the Assembly premises in 2009, she had accused Israni of corruption and procuring a fake degree to retain a job.
In the latest case, the former Congress legislator from Mahidpur constituency in Ujjain district had displayed a photograph that had the image of the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta in RSS uniform. The Lokayukta’s face was found to have been superimposed on that of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
After a discussion during a no-confidence motion in the winter session of the Legislative Assembly, Parulekar had waved a photograph of Lokayukta P P Naolekar during a press conference on the Assembly premises. She had alleged that the Lokayukta was saving corrupt BJP ministers because he was an RSS member, and waved the photograph as proof.
The BJP government refuted her charge and produced the photograph of Bhagwat, clicked at the organisation’s convention in Ranchi. In the photograph Bhagwat was flanked by two persons, Mahendra Mahato and Samika Pahan, and both deposed during the trial in a Bhopal court.
Naolekar did not pay any heed to the photograph but neither did he lodge any complaint himself. Special public prosecutor Prakash Sheode reportedly told The Indian Express that a written complaint in the cyber cell was lodged by one Gopal Dandotiya against Parulekar for displaying a morphed photograph.
The case was then transferred to the CID, which filed the chargesheet in 2013. Parulekar was booked under sections of the IPC and Information Technology Act. The prosecution, however, could not prove the charges under the IT Act. Parulekar was arrested in 2012. Naolekar deposed in court last year. Out of 42 witnesses, 18 were examined.
Third additional district and sessions judge Arvind Kumar Goyal convicted Parulekar under Sections 465, 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document), and sentenced her to two years in jail for each offence. All the sentences are supposed to run concurrently. A fine of Rs 12,000 was also levied on her.
Citing Article 194 of the Constitution, Parulekar’s lawyer argued that she enjoyed special privileges and cannot be prosecuted for what happens in the Assembly. The prosecution clarified that the privilege extended only to the proceedings in the House; not the venue of a press conference in the premises.
Parulekar is set to challenge the conviction in the high court.