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SC reserves verdict on Fadnavis' plea in affidavit case

Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: February 18, 2020 22:32 IST
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Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis Tuesday requested the Supreme Court to reconsider its verdict asking him to face trial for allegedly failing to furnish details of two pending criminal cases against him in his 2014 poll affidavit saying it will have "far reaching consequences" for candidates. 

While seeking review of the 2019 verdict, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Fadnavis, told a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that there was a "clear error" in the apex court's judgement as the law stipulates for disclosure of details about criminal cases only if charges are framed and on conviction.

"I (Fadnavis) had not withheld any information about charges being framed against me or about conviction," Rohatgi told the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.

He said the allegation against Fadnavis is that he had not disclosed in his poll affidavit about a case where cognisance was taken by the court.

 

"It is a matter which requires consideration. I (Fadnavis) am being prosecuted for not disclosing a case where cognisance was taken but the law talks about twin conditions only that I have to disclose information about cases where charges are framed or where there is conviction," Rohatgi told the bench, which reserved its order on the review plea.

In its October 1, 2019 judgment, the apex court had set aside the Bombay High Court order which gave a clean chit to Fadnavis and held that he did not deserve to be tried for the alleged offence under the Representation of Peoples Act.

The verdict had come on an appeal by one Satish Ukey, who had challenged the high court's order.

During the arguments on Tuesday, Rohatgi said, "This will have a very, very far reaching consequence. It has to be heard. I can be prosecuted for violating the twin conditions only".

"This will seal my fate. It is an important question as it affects Article 21. This is a matter which requires a re-look," he told the bench.

However, the bench said, "The offence is bailable. What is the problem? We are not sealing your fate. We will keep the question of law open".

The bench observed that Fadnavis had the knowledge about cognisance being taken by court on a complaint against him.

Rohatgi argued that knowledge did not make it an offence.

The bench said the situation could have been different if a candidate does not have the knowledge about cognisance being taken by a court on a complaint against him.

"This provision may have to be read down because cognisance does not mean that the person has the knowledge about it," the bench said.

The apex court had last year revived a criminal complaint filed against Fadnavis for allegedly failing to furnish details of two pending criminal cases in his 2014 election affidavit and had asked the trial court to consider it afresh.

The top court had allowed the appeal by Ukey who had filed a criminal complaint against Fadnavis before a magisterial court in Nagpur seeking registration of a case against him under section 125-A of the RP Act.

Section 125-A of the RP Act deals with the penalty for "filing false affidavit" and says that if a candidate or his proposer fails to furnish or gives false or conceals any information in his nomination paper on issues like pending criminal cases then the person may be awarded six months jail term or fine or both.

Ukey had initially moved a magisterial court which had dismissed his complaint against Fadnavis on September 7, 2015.

Later, he moved the Sessions court which remanded the matter to magisterial court for a "de novo" (afresh) consideration.

Aggrieved by the Sessions court order, Fadnavis had moved the high court which on May 3, 2018 set it aside.

Ukey had alleged that Fadnavis, in his election affidavit filed in 2014, had failed to disclose the pendency of two criminal cases against him.

The two complaints of alleged cheating and forgery were filed against Fadnavis in 1996 and 1998 but charges were not framed.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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