A special MP/MLA court in Agra on Saturday awarded a jail term of two years to former Union Minister and BJP MP Ram Shankar Katheria to for thrashing staff of a private power firm in 2011, putting him in imminent risk of losing his status as a lawmaker under the Representation of People Act if his conviction is not stayed.
The former Minister of State for Human Resource Development was also imposed with a fine of Rs 50,000 after being held guilty under IPC Sections 147 (rioting) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt).
The Etawah lawmaker was booked for thrashing the staff of Torrent Power Limited in Agra in 2011 when the state was governed by the BSP. According to the FIR on November 16, 2011, when Katheria — the Agra MP at the time — along with 10-15 supporters barged into the office of the then manager Bhavesh Rasik Lal Shah of Torrent Power, a power distribution franchise providing services in Agra and vandalised the office and assaulted the staff.
Katheria was booked at Hariparwat Police Station in Agra as the complainant alleged that the MP and his supporters slapped the manager while his supporters hit him with lathis.
After the verdict, Katheria said, "I respect the court order, but I will use my right to appeal in the higher court."
Recalling the November 16, 2011 incident, Katheria said, "It was a matter related to an SC woman, who irons clothes on the Shamsabad road in Agra. She had complained to me about getting excessive electricity bill from Torrent."
The MP said after he heard the woman's complaint, he approached the Torrent office and asked officials there to reconsider the bills.
"In 2011, it was BSP's government in UP and many fake cases were registered against met," he said.
The 58-year-old lawmaker, also a professor of Hindi at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Agra, had been associated with the RSS at an early age. He was twice elected MP from the Agra Lok Sabha seat. In the 2019 election, BJP fielded him from Etawah and he became MP for the third time.
Katheria, who belongs to the Dhanuk community, a Dalit sub-caste, was appointed national general secretary of BJP in 2014. He served as the Union MoS at the HRD ministry from November 2014 to July 2016.
He was also the chairperson of National Commission for SC, and is a member of Parliament's standing committee on defence and consultative committee, ministry of home affairs.
According the election affidavit filed at the time of the 2019 LS elections, Katheria faced 12 criminal cases pending against him, with most of them registered between 2010 and 2013 with the common charge was “rioting” in nine of them.
As per the Representation of People Act, an elected public representative sentenced for any offence for two years or more faces immediate disqualification.