Congress MLA gets one-year jail in land grab case in Himachal

Shimla, Feb 26 (IANS) A special court on Friday sentenced Congress leader and Dalhousie MLA Asha Kumari to one-year imprisonment and six others in a land grab case.

The Special Judge in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh also handed over one-year jail terms each to two other accused and three-year jail each to four others along with Rs.5,000 fine in the case dating back to 1998.

The court, however, agreed to suspend the sentence for a month to enable time to the convicts to appeal in the high court against the conviction.

Asha Kumari is presently secretary of the All India Congress Committee.

A former municipal councillor Kuldeep Kumar lodged a complaint against Asha Kumari and her husband Brijender Singh and some revenue officials accusing them of tampering with revenue records to transfer 67.3 bighas of government land, including forest, near Dalhousie in their name.

The state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau registered an FIR on December 15, 2001.

Thirteen people were made accused in the case, of which six people including Brijender Singh, have since died.

On Jan 4, 2005, a court in Chamba charged Asha Kumari, the then education minister, and others with grabbing over 60 bighas of forest land by tampering with government records and fabricating wills in connivance with revenue officials.

Following the framing of charges by the court, Asha Kumari resigned from the ministry.

Asha Kumari moved the high court that set aside the Chamba court order on the ground that she was denied an opportunity of proper hearing. But, in December 2011, the Supreme Court set aside the relief granted to the Congress leader by the Himachal Pradesh high court.

Confirming the order dated January 4, 2005 on framing of charge passed by the Special Judge, Chamba, a division bench of the apex court directed him to proceed further in accordance with law.

In August 2012, the Special Judge framed charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery against Asha Kumari and others.

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