Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jaya Bachchan in soup again

Parliamentary membership has hardly added to Jaya Bachchan’s reputation. The film actress turned politician now faces a criminal case for hiding facts in her affidavit filed for the Rajya Sabha by-election held in June 2004.

An FIR against Bachchan has been lodged on behalf of Principal Secretary Vidhan Sabha R P Pandey, who was the returning officer of by-election, official sources confirmed. Pandey has asked the SSP Lucknow, Akhil Kumar to register a case against Jaya Bachchan for concealing facts about a land in Barabanki in the name of her husband Amitabh Bachchan in the affidavit.

Pandey took the action on the directives of election Commission on a petition filed by one Amir Haidar of Barabanki. Election Commission had sent a notice to Jaya on February 5, 2007 and gave her a fortnight to send an explanation. Later, Pandey had reserved his verdict on the reply sent by Bachchan. Pandey said concealing facts in the affidavit of the election amounts to violation of section 125(A) and section 33(A) of the Representative of Peoples Act 1951 and is punishable under section 177 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

''Hence, an FIR should be registered against Jaya Bachchan, resident of Pratiksha, North South Road No-10, Juhu Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai and legal proceeding launched against her'', he said in his letter to the SSP.

Amir Haider, an advocate and Congress worker in Barabanki, had filed a petition with the EC on October 19, 2006 stating Jaya had concealed facts about two properties in the name of her husband Amitabh, which were purchased just a fortnight before filing the affidavit for the RS by-poll.

This will be the second time that Jaya would be in trouble after resigning from the RS over office of profit controversy in March 2006.

The affidavit filed by Jaya on June 1, 2006 showed only one piece of land of 0.25 hectare and did not mention other two pieces of land measuring 1.3 and 1.5 hectares in Amitabh's name at Daulatpur village of Fatehpur tehsil, Barabanki. The land mentioned in the affidavit also entered into a controversy with a petition in the High Court claiming that it was a Gram Samaj land meant to be distributed among the poor and landless farmers.

However, Amitabh Bachchan surrendered the gram samaj land to the state government last year.

On February 09, 2007 within months of her re-election to Rajya Sabha after being disqualified, Samajwadi Party MP and actress Jaya Bachchan had been issued notice for an explanation for allegedly concealing property details while filing nomination papers for the Upper House polls last year. The notice to Bachchan was issued by the principal secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, who was the returning officer in this case, after the Election Commission had referred a complaint to him.

Bachchan was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in a by-election from Uttar Pradesh in June last year after she was disqualified from the Upper House over an office of profit controversy in March 2006.

On March 17, 2006 President APJ Abdul Kalam approved the disqualification of Jaya Bachchan from the Rajya Sabha. The Election Commission of India had disqualified her from the Upper House of Parliament since in her capacity as chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council chairperson she was holding an office of profit, it contended. Bachchan had been elected RS member in 2004.

A Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh, Madan Mohan, had filed the disqualification petititon against Bachchan on the ground that as chairperson of the state Film Development Council she held an office of profit and attracted provisions of the Constitution in this regard. Articles 102 and 103 of the Constitution provide for disqualification of MPs on various grounds, including holding an office of profit. Whenever a petition for the disqualification of an MP is filed, the President is mandated by the Constitution to take a decision in consultation with the Election Commission. Normally, the President goes by the recommendation of the Commission.
Bachchan had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the EC recommendation and sought its views on what constituted an office of profit.

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