Proof against Beniwal enough: Prez

NEW DELHI (TIP): President Pranab Mukherjee was satisfied with the “evidence” provided by the Narendra Modiled Centre against Mizoram Governor Kamla Beniwal to sack her. The President has jotted down in his own hand that he was satisfied with the evidence provided by the government.

He got a legal opinion and had also asked his aide to speak to the 87-year-old Beniwal to consider her response before he signed the sacking order, sources said. Mukherjee was first informed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the Centre’s advice. He was later briefed by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as well as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who explained to him about the legal issues involved in the case, official sources said. Mukherjee, a stickler for following rules, then asked Omita Pal, Secretary to the President, to speak to Beniwal on Wednesday. The President’s aide, who spoke to Beniwal, recorded that she confirmed the land transaction, the sources said.

After getting her response to the charges made by the government, he signed the order of “withdrawing the President’s pleasure” on her continuation as the governor. His jotting on the file is in line with the stipulations of the Supreme Court judgment of 2010 on the dismissal of governors, which forbade en masse removal of governors for political reasons. The apex court order had said that in individual cases, the President can withdraw his pleasure if he is “satisfied” with the grounds for a governor’s removal. The government, too, insisted that the apex court’s verdict must be followed in Beniwal’s case, a senior Cabinet minister said.

The main legal issue put before Mukherjee was Beniwal’s alleged involvement in a land scam in Rajasthan. Beniwal is accused of claiming land meant for farmers after “falsely” stating in affidavits that she had tilled the land for 50 years, though she was a minister in the state’s Congress government. A strategy worked out by Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley saw the Attorney General conveying in detail to the President about the “material based on facts” which showed Beniwal’s acts were unbecoming of a governor and “gross impropriety” on her part. Other allegations against Beniwal are that she spent just one day in Mizoram, where she was posted a month ago, and mostly stayed in Rajasthan and she made “frequent air travels” at the taxpayer’s expense.

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