BJP Devendra Fadnavis to face trial in poll affidavit case
In a major setback to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, SC set aside a Bombay High Court order that prevented the trial court from examining a poll-related complaint against him
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose set aside the clean chit given to Fadnavis by the high court, which held that he should not to be tried for the alleged offences under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act.
"In the light of the view that we have taken and in view of the clear averment made in the complaint to the effect that the first respondent (Fadnavis) had knowledge of the two cases against him, which was not mentioned in the affidavit filed by him along with his nomination papers," the top court said in its judgement.
The apex court has allowed the trial court to examine if Fadnavis concealed criminal cases in the nomination papers.
A complaint was filed by Satish Ukey against Fadanvis in the magistrate's court seeking his prosecution for not disclosing all the details of the pending criminal cases against him.
Ukey had alleged that Fadnavis, in his election affidavit filed in 2014, did not disclose two pending criminal cases against him.
But the magistrate had dismissed the complaint. In a revision, the sessions' judge in Nagpur remanded the matter to the trial court for consideration. An aggrieved Fadnavis then moved the high court, which set aside the order of the sessions' judge by its judgment dated May 3, 2018.
The apex court has set aside the concurrent clean chit to Fadnavis given by the trial court and the Bombay High Court.
"We unhesitatingly arrive at the conclusion that the order of the trial court upheld by the high court by the judgment and order dated May 3, 2018 is legally not tenable and the same deserves to be set aside which we hereby do. The complaint of the appellant (Satish Ukey) will be considered afresh by the trial court from the stage where it was interdicted by the order dated May 30, 2016," the SC observed.
Making the observation on non-disclosure of information, the apex court said that such information should be furnished in Form 26, which includes information concerning cases in which a competent court has taken cognizance.
According to the provisions, if a candidate fails to furnish or gives false or conceals information in his nomination paper, especially with regard to pending criminal cases, then the person may face six-month jail term or fine or both.
"A contesting candidate is mandated to furnish information concerning the cases in which a competent court has taken cognizance along with the cases in which charges have been framed," the court observed citing the relevant Act.
With the top court allowing the appeal, the complaint will be revived before the magistrate's court as per the procedure. Although, this direction will have no bearing upon the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.