Former Mahahrasthra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday was exempted from personal appearance for the fourth time before a court hearing a case pertaining to alleged discrepancies in his election affidavit. Fadnavis is accused of failing to declare two criminal cases, dating back to 1996 and 1998, in his 2014 Assembly election affidavit.
Fadnavis’ counsel Uday Dable sought the exemption citing his presence is required as Leader of the Opposition at the State Legislature’s Business Advisory Committee meeting in Mumbai.
Petitioner Satish Uke, a lawyer himself, however, moved a contempt plea against Fadnavis, saying his repeated non-attendance of the court amounts to interference in the administration of justice.
While granting the exemption, the court underline it would the last time. The next date of hearing has been fixed for February 20.
Last October, the Surpeme Court set aside a 2018 order of the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court and ordered a retrial in the case. Accordingly, the fresh trial had begun with the Nagpur court asking Fadnavis to appear in person on December 4. Fadnavis, however, didn’t appear, citing preparations for the winter session of the Sate Legislature.
Fadnavis skipped the next hearing on January 4, stating that he had to meet farmers hit by unseasonal rains. He skipped the third time on January 24, saying he had moved the SC for a review of its October 1, 2019 order.The court had granted him exemption third time, warning it was last one, and had asked him to produce a stay order from the SC before the next hearing. His lawyer said the SC hadn’t taken up the case for hearing yet.
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