A single judge bench of Gujarat High Court (HC) presided over by Justice G R Udhwani, on Tuesday, recused itself from hearing a petition whereby the then Chief Minister of Gujarat and present Prime Minister Narendra Modi is accused of violating the model code of conduct and unduly influencing voters in Ranip area by clicking a selfie holding a symbol of Lotus – BJP symbol – while voting during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Notably, the same bench had, on September 28, heard the matter and kept it for Tuesday after the Advocate General, appearing for the State of Gujarat, sought time to produce some judgments in support of their case.
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The petition has been moved by one Nishant Varma seeking criminal action against Modi for his act which was allegedly in violation of The Representation of the People Act (RP Act), Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Model Code of Conduct (MCC) of the Election Commission of India.
According to Varma, on Tuesday, the judge simply recused himself from hearing the case by saying ‘Not Before Me’ when the Public Prosecutor sought a short date since the Advocate General was not available.
As per the details of the case which is popularly known as ‘Modi Selfie Case’, after casting his vote on April 30, 2014 during Loksabha elections, Modi had clicked a selfie while holding the lotus symbol in his hand in Ranip area. Varma has alleged that Modi not only did so within 100 metre limit of the polling station, but also did a public meeting there which was in violation of RP Act, IPC and MCC of Election Commission.
He had lodged a complaint in this regard with a magisterial court in Ahmedabad Rural after the Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) did not register an offence on his complaint. The magisterial court, Varma said, had 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.
Against this order of the magisterial court, Varma has approached HC. However, now, since the bench of Justice Udhwani has recused itself from hearing the case, it is likely to come up for hearing before some other bench.