Poll Affidavit Case| SC quashes clean chit; Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to face trial

Supreme Court: In a major blow to Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, the 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ has noticed that Fadnavis had knowledge of the two cases against him which had not been mentioned in the affidavit filed by the him along with his nomination papers. The Court, hence, held

“we unhesitatingly arrive at the conclusion that the order of the learned trial Court upheld by the High Court by the impugned judgment and order dated 3rd May, 2018 is legally not tenable and the same deserves to be set aside which we hereby do. The complaint of the appellant will be considered afresh by the learned trial Court from the stage where it was interdicted by the order dated 30.5.2016.”

According to the complainant Satish Ukey, in the affidavit in Form-26, prescribed by the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as “the 1961 Rules”), which had accompanied the nomination papers of Fadnavis, details of two cases in which cognizance was taken, have not been mentioned.

Noticing that a contesting candidate is mandated to furnish information concerning the cases in which a Competent Court has taken cognizance along with the cases in which charges have been framed. The Court noticed that a bare perusal of Form-26 makes it abundantly clear that, for offences punishable with imprisonment for two years or more, while entry (5) (i) mandates disclosure of information by the contesting candidate regarding the case(s) that is/are pending against him in which charges have been framed by the Court; entry (5)(ii) mandates disclosure of information by the contesting candidate regarding cases that are pending against him in which cognizance has been taken by the Court. The Court, also said,

“subsequent to the substitution of Form 26 in 2012, the new Form 26 (as in vogue at the time of the elections in 2014), mandates the disclosure of information by the contesting candidate of not only case(s) in which charges have been framed but also case(s) in which cognizance has been taken by the Court”

The Court, hence, held that the information to be furnished under Section 33-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 includes not only information mentioned in clauses (i) and (ii) of Section 33-A(1), but also information, that the candidate is required to furnish, under the Act or the Rules made thereunder and such information should be furnished in Form 26, which includes information concerning cases in which a competent Court has taken cognizance (Entry 5(ii) of Form 26). This is apart from and in addition to cases in which charges have been framed for an offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more or cases in which conviction has been recorded and sentence of imprisonment for a period of one year or more has been imposed.

[Satish Ukey v. Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1275, decided on 01.10.2019]

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