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03/15/2013

News / Indian politician disqualified from office for seven years for faking birth certificate to appear older

A young politician in the Indian city of Pune lost her seat and was disqualified from standing for elections for seven years after it was discovered that she had forged her birth certificate before her election to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Former Pune corporator Priya Gadade-Patil was only 20 years old when she was elected and not 21, the minimum age necessary to run for office, as her birth certificate had claimed.

Small cause court judge M. Sadique M. Umar also invalidated Gadade-Patil’s election to the PMC and asked the election officer to schedule new elections by June 30.

Gadade-Patil emerged victorious in the PMC elections last year, and was chosen to represent Janata Vasahat. The runner-up, Laxmi Praveen Chavan, contested the results on the grounds that Gadade-Patil’s birth certificate was forged and that her actual age would have disqualified her from running in the election.

While the small cause court did not declare Chavan the victor of the elections, it did look into the matter with the fake birth certificate. During the investigation, it was discovered that the registration number on the birth certificate that Gadade-Patil submitted when filing her election registration papers belonged to a different person.

Investigators alleged that Gadade-Patil asked some contractual employees of the PMC birth-death registration office to replace the name of that person, whose date of birth is September 5, 1990, with hers. That way, it appeared as if she was exactly one year older than her real birth certificate indicates.

Gadade-Patil and seven contractual employees of the PMC birth-death registration office were arrested in connection with the case last June.

In response to the ruling, Gadade-Patil’s electoral opponent, Laxmi Praveen Chaven, hailed the court’s decision, stating that “truth has triumphed.” However, she also noted that the court should have awarded Gadade-Patil’s seat to her.

“The submission of a fabricated certificate made a mockery of democracy,” Chavan said, as quoted by Pune Mirror Bureau.

The leader of Gadade-Patil’s party, Vasant More, said the party would appeal the court ruling in the Bombay High Court.

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