New Delhi: In a setback to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed clean chits to him by a trial court and the Bombay High Court, for allegedly filing false election affidavits.
The apex court verdict, which means that Fadnavis will have to stand trial in the case, comes exactly 20 days before the state goes to polls, on October 21. However, it will not have any effect on him contesting the elections.
The case pertains to his election affidavit from five years ago, in which it is alleged that he did not mention that two criminal cases were pending against him. The cases were filed against him for alleged cheating and forgery in 1996 and 1998; however, no charges were framed against him.
The plea in the top court was filed by activist Satish Ukey.
Observing that the Chief Minister had the knowledge about the cases but did not mention them in his poll affidavit, a three-judge SC bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, quashed the clean chit to Fadnavis and ordered the trial court to hear the case afresh.
The punishment for concealing information or giving false information on one’s election papers is six months jail or fine or both.
The 49-year-old Fadnavis became Chief Minister after the BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the 2014 Assembly elections. It later formed alliance with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally Shiv Sena to form the government.
This time, the two parties will contest the elections together with the Sena’s Aditya Thackeray, who will contest from Worli, all set to become the first member from his family to contest an election.