Union Minister Smriti Irani’s latest election affidavit has sensationally revealed that the former education minister of India has consistently been lying under oath. Irani, whose educational qualifications have been an enigma of sorts, has now confessed for the first time that she is not a graduate.
Her election affidavit for 2019 Lok Sabha polls said that her ‘three year degree course not completed.’ Under the education qualifications column, Irani said that she had completed the All India Secondary School Examination from Holy Child Auxilium School in Delhi in 1991. She also claimed that she passed her All India School Certificate Examination from the same school in 1993 before adding that her Bachelor of Commerce Part-1 from School of Open Learning, University of Delhi, remained incomplete.
This is in sharp contradiction to what her election affidavit stated in 2004, when she contested from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency unsuccessfully. Then, she had claimed to have completed her BA from the Delhi University in 1996.
However, Irani had given different information about her bachelors degree in 2014, when she contested against Congress President Rahul Gandhi from Amethi. Her affidavit had read, “Bachelor of Commerce Part-1, School of Open Learning (Correspondence), University of Delhi.” The year described here was 1994 and not 1996 as she had claimed in 2004. (See below)
In other words, Irani lied under oath on two previous occasions, if her 2019 affidavit is to be accurate. Questions may arise if it was right for a habitual liar to head India’s HRD Ministry, which also managed the functioning of India’s premier educational institutions.
This also raises questions on her school education on whether she is telling the truth about her CBSE exams that she has claimed to have passed successfully.
In November 2018, Gandhi had taken a potshot at her fake degree when he tweeted, “Mr 56 (inch) and his ministers have taught students that the doors to the BJP open by showing fake degrees. This is an old RSS policy to attack educational institutions and appoint people with fake degree in the government. This why the Delhi University continues to be a victim of the RSS’s furgical (fake) strike.”
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Irani have been accused of faking their degrees. While a petition seeking the details on Irani’s degree is being heard by the Delhi High Court, PM Modi’s ‘certificate’ had claimed that he passed his degree in ‘entire political science.’ Opposition parties had accused the BJP of faking his degree to avoid public embarrassment.
In February last year, the high court had made scathing observations addressing the CBSE that if its exam marks were available online now, then it could not claim of right to privacy for previous students.
The Central Information Commissioner in January 2017 had dismissed the CBSE’s argument that the educational qualifications were personal information and could not be disclosed adding that Irani’s board exam results be made public. The direction had come from Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu, who asked the CBSE to allow the inspection of the minister’s records from Class 10 and 12 boards.
Incidentally, Acharyulu had earlier ordered the inspection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s academic records before being removed from the HRD ministry’s charge. Acharyulu was later barred from hearing an appeal linked to educational qualification of Irani.