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Supreme Court: A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, JJ has reserved its order on the review petition filed by former Maharashtra chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, seeking modification of it’s earlier order directing him to face the trial for allegedly not disclosing two pending criminal cases against him in his 2014 poll affidavit.

The court bench, headed by the then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, in its judgement in Satish Ukey v. Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1275, last year on October 1, had set aside the Bombay High Court order for Fadnavis’s alleged concealment of criminal cases against him in his 2014 election papers. It had said,

“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.”

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.

The Bombay High Court had earlier dismissed the plea filed by one Satish Ukey, seeking annulment of Fadanavis’s election to the Maharashtra assembly alleging non-disclosure of all pending criminal cases against him. Ukey had later approached the Top court challenging the Bombay High Court’s order.
In his appeal, Ukey had said that Fadnavis while submitting his nomination from South West assembly constituency in 2009 and 2014 had allegedly suppressed the information about two pending criminal cases against him.

(With inputs from ANI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of Paresh Upadhyay, J. declared the election of BJP candidate Pabubha  Manek to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly (in the 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly Elections), as void under Section 100(1)(d)(i) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The ground of challenge raised by the petitioner (a candidate of Congress party) was that the nomination of respondent 1 was defective, since, in his nomination, the number and name of the constituency was not mentioned. Therefore, acceptance of respondent 1’s nomination by the Returning Officer (RO) was illegal.

Respondent objected to the petition stating that the exclusion of number and name of constituency in the nomination was not a defect at all. Arguendo, it was not a defect of substantial character warranting rejection of the said nomination.

The Court observed that Section 33 of the Act mandates completion of nomination paper in the form prescribed under Rule 4 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. After considering all the contingencies provided in proviso to Section 33(4) of the Act, which enlists defects of a substantial character, it was held that exclusion of name and number of the constituency in the nomination was indeed a defect of substantial character. Reliance in this regard was placed on Prahladdas Khandelwal v. Narendra Kumar Salve, (1973) 3 SCC 104. It was opined that the said information could not be said to be irrelevant, and exclusion thereof could not be overlooked by the RO as it was very vital information.

The impugned decision of RO to accept respondent 1’s nomination, inspite of the Prahladdas Judgment, was held to be illegal and perverse. Holding that scrutinization of nominations by the RO is a quasi-judicial function, the Court observed that RO’s was aimed at convincing respondent 1 reach his goal of being elected.

In view of the above, Manek’s nomination was set aside holding that the result of election had been materially affected by the improper acceptance of Manek’s nomination. However, petitioner’s prayer to declare him as the duly elected candidate from Dwarka constituency was declined to hold that “the wish of the people is either with the respondent 1 or with the party, which setup him a candidate. Under either of the circumstances, it would be against the wish of the people, to declare the petitioner as the returned candidate, in the election in question.”

Learned advocate for respondent 1 Mr C.B. Upadhyaya’s prayer for a stay on this Judgment, for some time, was rejected observing that “the very acceptance of the nomination of the respondent 1 was illegal and against the binding judgment of the Supreme Court of India (as noted above). The said illegality cannot be permitted to be perpetuated any further.”[Ahir Meramanbhai Marakhibhai v. Pabubha Viramabha Manek, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 666, decided on 12-04-2019]