Devendra Fadnavis’ future as chief minister has come under huge uncertainty after a Maharashtra court on Monday issued summons in the 2014 poll affidavit case. The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) court has directed Fadnavis to remain present in the court on 4 December during the hearing of the case, which has been re-registered following a Supreme Court directive on October 1. The case against Fadnavis has been reopened after the Supreme Court on 1 October ordered a fresh trial on a plea filed by Nagpur based lawyer Satish Uke.
Uke had argued that Fadanvis did not mention two criminal cases in his 2014 election affidavit demanding his election be declared invalid.
As an effect of this order, the accused -Fadnavis is required to obtain a bail by appearing before the court. Since Fadnavis has now become an accused in a serious electoral offence, he has lost the right to continue as Maharashtra’s chief minister.
Uke has already made a representation to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari requesting him to disallow Fadnavis to function as the incumbent chief minister of the state. The governor has been informed that there was a threat from Fadnavis to his life and the latter should be removed from the post of the chief minister.
Fadnavis was elected as the chief minister of Maharashtra in 2014 after his party won a landslide with its political partner, the Shiv Sena. In 2015, Uke approached the court alleging that Fadnavis had not disclosed at least two criminal cases against him in his affidavit. Much to his disappointment, the court rejected his petition.
Unfazed by the early disappointment by the JMFC court, Uke moved the sessions court, which set aside the order by the JMFC court. Fadnavis moved the High Court, which set aside the sessions court’s order against him.
Uke approached the Supreme Court, which ordered the re-trial of the Fadnavis case on 1 October. The Supreme Court Bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose observed that prima facie case under Section 125 of the Representation of Peoples Act was made out against Fadnavis.
The development comes at a time when Fadnavis is aiming to occupy the post of Maharashtra chief minister for the second time. However, his ambition has taken a hit after the Shiv Sena acted tough and asked the BJP to agree to Aditya Thackeray’s appointment as the chief minister for half of the full five-year term.