Devendra Fadnavis under pressure after SC's ruling in poll affidavit case

Updated: Oct 02, 2019, 15:35 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Nagpur petitioner Satish Uke's curveball against Devendra Fadnavis puts CM under pressure; Opposition jumps in to make most of opportunity

Devendra Fadnavis with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during the BJP's Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting, in New Delhi. Pic/PTI
Devendra Fadnavis with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during the BJP's Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting, in New Delhi. Pic/PTI

You cannot call it seismic on the political scale, but there certainly has been a tremor on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) poll landscape. The Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis suffered a setback on Tuesday when the Supreme Court ruled that he would have to face trial for allegedly failing to furnish details of two pending criminal cases in his election affidavits.

The verdict, which has seen the Opposition jumping like kids on a sugar high, asking for the CM to resign on "moral grounds" has come on a complaint filed by a Nagpur advocate called Satish Uke. The advocate, taking on Fadnavis, said that he had filed his complaint "back in 2014. I knew the current Maharashtra CM would have cases against him. I come from the same voting constituency as him and I knew his background. I searched on the District Court website and saw that there were 24 matters against his name.

Fadnavis had listed only 22 in 2004, 2009 and 2014 in the election affidavits. The missing two cases are those filed before those dates. The two cases are one for forgery and cheating and the other for defamation, which were undisclosed. I decided to file a complaint in 2014. I am happy with the SC taking it up."

Satish Uke
Satish Uke

Taking them on

When asked about smaller men taking on the powerful in any establishment, Uke said, "Our system is such that the powerful oppress and suppress the common man. I decided that it is better to fight and die, rather than do nothing at all." The advocate claimed he has paid a price for taking on the mighty. "I used to be an architect before I started practising as an advocate. I had an account in a well-known bank from 1999 to 2002. In 2018, I found that my account details had disappeared from the bank and I was accused of making payments through 'forged' cheques. This was one way in which I was targetted." Uke claimed that it is his, "lawyer friends who are providing security to me now. They pick and drop me off from courts, ensuring that I do not commute alone."

The advocate who lives in Parvati Nagar, said, "This particular case will go to a trial court and I am hopeful of a conviction." Uke who started practising in 2007 added, "This verdict has shown that you cannot fool the media and public repeatedly. I have been told that this may not affect the Vidhan Sabha elections, but it is early days yet. You have to acknowledge that this piece of news has reached every household in Maharashtra," he finished.

The other side

The Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office (CMO) has refuted all Uke's claims. It has clarified, "The trial court will now ascertain whether a case for the prosecution is made out or not. It is wrong and contemptuous to say that Supreme Court has allowed for prosecution." It detailed both cases 'omitted' from the affidavit as one criminal defamation case against Fadnavis in the early 1990s which has been withdrawn, The second case, the CM's office said, was about tax on slum properties. Here, too, the complaint against Devendra Fadnavis was dismissed by the High Court. In both cases, the office said Fadnavis, "was acting in public interest and the Supreme Court judgment has no bearing on him continuing as a public representative or to contest the next election."

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