In what many would term as a hugely controversial development, a Gujarat High Court judge on Tuesday reportedly recused himself from hearing a case, where Narendra Modi is accused of violating model code of conduct during the last year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Modi, then Gujarat’s chief minister and now India’s prime minister, was accused of taking a selfie holding the BJP’s election symbol ‘lotus’ within the ‘100 meters of the election booth’ during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on 30 April.
A petition was filed by an individual, Nishant Varma, who sought criminal action against Modi for his action which, according to him was in violation of The Representation of the People Act, Indian Penal Code and Model Code of Conduct of the Election Commission of India.
But Varma said that the single judge bench of Justice G R Udhwani on Tuesday simply recused himself by saying ‘not before me’ when the Public Prosecutor sought a short date since the Advocate General representing the Gujarat government was not available.
The petitioner alleged that Modi had also held a public meeting close to the polling booth thereby ‘violating election code of conduct.’
Varma had first moved the Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch to lodge a complaint against Modi. He approached a magistrate court after the DCB refused to entertain his complaint. He said that the magistrate court too dismissed his petition on the ground that Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court had already decided a similar, but separate complaint registered by DCB in the case while upholding a DCB report.
Varma had moved the HC to challenge the dismissal of his complaint by the magistrate court. But, now that the HC’s single judge bench too has recused itself from hearing the case, a new bench may be constituted afresh to hear his petition.