PunjabPolls | Avtar Henry’s vote cancelled; cannot contest Punjab elections


Having contested Assembly elections six times since 1986, former Congress minister Avtar Henry has been rendered ineligible to re-contest this time as his re-issued vote was on Thursday cancelled on the orders of the Returning Officer of Jalandhar North constituency.  The step was taken because he is yet to get back his Indian citizenship that was cancelled owing to his having a British passport. The decision was taken by the poll returning officer (RO) of the Jalandhar North assembly segment, from where Henry has won four times but lost in 2012.

His voting right was challenged by three persons in the past one month alone, arguing that Henry’s Indian citizenship was cancelled by the Union home ministry in 2012, after it had come to light that he had acquired a British passport in 1969 when he was working in England. Later, when Henry moved back to India, he got an Indian passport.

Though the issue had made headlines and his vote was cancelled earlier too — putting a question mark on how he had managed to vote and fight polls in the past — the latest row began on November 3, 2016, after assistant RO Paramjit Singh Sahota re-registered him as voter on the basis of a “temporary” passport. Henry — who argues that he never misused the British passport and had merely been ignorant — had been given that passport on court orders after he pleaded that he needed to travel to England to visit his ailing sister.

After a probe, RO Barjinder Singh observed that orders of the ministry of home affairs (foreigner division), on August 16, 2012, to cancel his vote and passport still stood, and as such he is yet to get back his Indian citizenship. The RO has also asked for cancellation of his temporary passport now.