Setback: SC paves way for prosecution of Devendra Fadnavis for non-disclosure of criminal cases
New Delhi, Oct 01: The Supreme Court has paved the way for the prosecution of Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis. The case relates to the non-disclosure of two pending criminal cases in his 2014 affidavit.
The SC delivered its verdict on a plea seeking prosecution of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis under the provisions of the Representation of the People (RP) Act for allegedly failing to furnish details of two pending criminal cases, in which the trial court had taken cognisance, in his election affidavit.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi pronounced the verdict on the plea filed by one Satish Ukey.
On July 23, the top court while reserving the verdict had said that the alleged "omission" by Fadnavis of not disclosing information about two criminal cases in his election affidavit in 2014 assembly polls may be decided in the trial.
The court had said that it was concerned with a limited issue whether prima facie Section 125A of the RP Act is attracted or not.
The provision deals with the penalty for "filing a 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 would maybe award six months jail term or fine or both.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the chief minister, had referred to the provision of the RP Act and said that the stage of cancellation of nomination papers for alleged concealment of information was over and the question was only whether the lawmaker can be prosecuted.
He had said the Bombay High Court rightly rejected the plea.
The court had said that the "long and short of the matter is that you had to disclose the pending cases where charges have been framed. You did it. But you missed out in giving details of two cases (where the court has taken cognizance)."
Ukey had contended that the chief minister filed a false affidavit by not disclosing the two criminal matters and yet the trial court and the high court held that there no prima facie case was made out for prosecution of the chief minister.
He had said that a candidate was under a mandatory legal obligation to disclose the details of all the cases, in which either charge have been framed or the trial court had taken cognizance, in the nomination papers.
The petitioner had alleged that Fadnavis, in his election affidavit filed in 2014, had failed to disclose the pendency of two criminal cases against him.
It was contended that the chief minister did not disclose the information as required of him under the election law and the non-disclosure of these two pending criminal cases was in violation of Section 125A of the RP Act and constituted an offence in itself.
The two cases of alleged cheating and forgery were filed against Fadnavis in 1996 and 1998 but charges were not framed.