Mumbai: Just before the Maharashtra assembly polls, came a setback for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside orders of the Bombay High Court which had dismissed a petition seeking action against Fadnavis for failing to disclose all the criminal cases pending against him in his nomination affidavit during the 2014 assembly polls.
This means, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongman may have to stand trial in the magistrate's court at Nagpur and defend himself.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “In view of the clear averment made in the complaint to the effect that Fadnavis had knowledge of the two cases against him which had not been mentioned in his affidavit, we unhesitatingly arrive at the conclusion that the order of HC is legally not tenable and the same deserves to be set aside.”
“The complaint (against Fadnavis) will be considered afresh by the trial court from the stage where it was interdicted,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by advocate Satish Ukey, 37, who had contended that the 46-year-old CM, while submitting his nomination papers for the 2014 elections, did not disclose all the pending criminal cases against him.
According to Ukey, the BJP leader violated the provisions of the Representation of the People’s Act,1951. He claimed that Fadnavis only mentioned the criminal cases wherein charges were framed against him but failed to list the two cases in which a magistrate’s court had taken cognizance and was yet to frame charges. He further claimed that this fact was brought to the notice of the Election Commission way back in 2014; however, the commission asked him to approach a court for seeking relief.
The two cases pointed out by Ukey are both registered in Nagpur. Fadnavis is booked for defamation in one case while in the other, the provisions of mischief, forgery and criminal intimidation were invoked against him.
However, the magistrate, before whom Ukey filed this complaint, dismissed the same, causing him to challenge the orders in the sessions court. The sessions judge, after noting that the magistrate had passed a ‘cryptic and non-speaking’ order, quashed the same and remanded the matter back to the magistrate, asking him to decide it afresh.
Aggrieved by this order of the sessions judge, Fadnavis moved the Nagpur bench of the Bombay HC, which quashed the sessions court’s orders.