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Fadnavis told to answer plea against election

Devendra Fadnavis

Devendra Fadnavis  

‘He failed to disclose pending cases’

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to respond to a petition for the annulment of his 2014 election to the Assembly for non-disclosure in his nomination affidavit of two criminal cases pending against him.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, passed the order on an appeal filed by Satish Ukey, who argued that the Chief Minister did not disclose the information as required under the election law. The cases pertain to cheating and forgery charges.

The petition said the non-disclosure violated Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court had set aside the sessions court’s decision to entertain Mr. Uke’s case. The High Court had said failure to furnish information about a pending criminal case in which cognisance was taken and no charge was framed did not amount to commission of any offence under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act. The court concluded that Mr. Fadnavis was not required to disclose the pendency of the criminal cases.

CMO defends

Responding to the developments, the Chief Minister’s Office said that the notice is regarding the admission of the case. “Appropriate reply will be provided in front of the authority,” it said. The CMO claimed that the 2014 election affidavit of Mr. Fadnavis mentions all cases pending against him and the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court had already rejected the plea.

Opposition attacks

The Opposition attacked Mr. Fadnavis over the issue with the former chief minister and senior Congress leader, Prithviraj Chavan, raising the question of ethics and morality on behalf of Mr. Fadnavis. “The Supreme Court has sought a reply from the CM, which means it has asked for it only after studying all the documents. The leader of the state should not hide these details from the people. Therefore we demand that he should come out clean and announce all the pending cases against him voluntarily,” said Mr. Chavan.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik said Mr. Fadnavis has no moral right to remain in his position and should resign from the post as he has hidden the information from his election affidavit.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) countered the NCP’s claims saying that such demands expose the intellectual bankruptcy of the party. BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said, “Today’s notice from the apex court is part of the technical process and routine. This is the primary stage of the petition and reply was sought to decide whether the petition should be admitted or not.”

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