The Districts and Sessions Court in Nagpur Friday granted third exemption from personal appearance to former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in connection with alleged non-disclosure of criminal cases in his 2014 election affidavit. During the last hearing on January 4, the court had directed Fadnavis to appear before it on January 24.
On Friday, Fadnavis’ lawyer presented a Supreme Court order stating it would hear the BJP leaders “review plea” on an earlier top court order directing the Nagpur court to re-hear the affidavit case.
The previous SC order was issued in 2019 on a petition by lawyer Satish Uke challenging an order of the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court exonerating Fadnavis in the matter in 2018.
Uke had first moved the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) in 2014 seeking that Fadnavis’ election be set aside for non-disclosing two criminal cases against him dating back to 1996 and 1998. The legal battle had eventually shifted to HC and later to SC.
After SC restored the hearing last year, the case was heard twice, on December 4 and January 4. On both occasions, Fadnavis was asked to remain personally present, but the latter had sought exemption on personal grounds — first in view of the ongoing session of the Legislative Assembly at Nagpur, and the second time as he was busy Zilla Parishad polls besides meeting farmers affected by unseasonal rainfall.
About a couple of months ago, Fadnavis had moved the top court seeking review of its earlier order. In an order, issued Thursday, the SC agreed to hear the plea.
On Friday, Fadnavis’ lawyer Uday Dable sought yet another exemption from personal appearance arguing that since the SC had agreed to hear Fadnavis review plea against its earlier order, the court should exempt his client till the SC hears the plea. “The court shouldn’t proceed in the matter that’s now is in the lap of SC,” he said.
Uke’s lawyer Sudip Jaiswal said Fadnavis shouldn’t be granted an exemption as the SC had only agreed to hear the review, but hadn’t stayed the lower court proceedings.
After hearing both sides, Judge R M Satav said she was granting last exemption to the accused and fixed the next hearing on February 10. She also made it clear that Fadnavis should produce a stay from the SC on the court’s proceeding for any further relief in the matter.
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