Fadnavis’s non-disclosure of cases was ‘unintentional’: Court in acquittal order

by The Technical Blogs


The Nagpur magistrate court observed that Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis did not intentionally conceal information about two criminal cases against him in an election affidavit case. The court also noted that the election process was not “unduly affected” by the absence of this information.

“If the accused really intended to hide criminal antecedents from voters, he could have concealed information about the pendency of 24 criminal cases. However, he disclosed information about 22 criminal cases,” noted Magistrate SS Jadhav.

On September 8, the court acquitted Fadnavis in a case where he was accused of non-disclosure of two criminal cases in his affidavit for the 2014 assembly elections.

In the complaint, Nagpur-based lawyer Satish Uke alleged that Fadnavis intentionally concealed the cases with the intent to win polls. Fadnavis, through his lawyer Uday Dable, argued that this was due to an oversight, for which the lawyer was responsible as Fadnavis had delegated this task to him.

In the detailed court order released on Monday, the Magistrate also pointed out that the 22 cases Fadnavis had disclosed were “much more serious” compared to the ones he did not disclose, which were for cheating and forgery registered against him in 1996 and 1998.

The Magistrate further mentioned that information about the two pending cases was uploaded on the Election Commission website approximately 11 days before the voting took place.

“Voters had sufficient time and opportunity to educate themselves regarding both criminal cases. Neither of these cases is of a serious nature nor related to offences of moral turpitude or offences against women. Even after the publication of this information on the E-portal of the Election Commission of India, the accused secured a win in the election. It shows that the election process was not unduly affected by the absence of information regarding the two criminal cases in Form 26 (election) Affidavit.”

The complainant argued that even a small typographical mistake in asset declaration or in a criminal case should be sufficient to punish a person contesting an election. However, the Magistrate countered, saying that “if such a hyper-technical strict liability approach is adopted, it amounts to intellectual extremism.”

The Magistrate added that in such cases, no one would be interested in contesting an election out of fear of the law, which would create hurdles in conducting free and fair elections and compromise the objectives of the Representation of People Act (RPA).

The Magistrate concluded that the accused did not conceal information about the two criminal cases in the affidavit with the intent to be elected, and thus, he did not commit an offence punishable under the RPA.

Published On:

Sep 12, 2023


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