Ahmedabad court rejects suit over Modi's marital status

A trial court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday held that though Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed an offence under the Representation of People Act by not disclosing his marital status during the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections, a case cannot be registered against him in this regard as the complaint against him was not filed within the prescribed time limit of one year.

The order was pronounced by additional judicial magistrate M M Sheikh while hearing a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Nishant Verma.

 Verma had in April approached the court after a police station refused to register a first information report against Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, for 'concealing' facts about his marital status in his affidavit filed during state elections in December 2012.

Verma had also sought action against the then Returning Officer of Maninagar assembly constituency P K Jedeja for accepting Modi's affidavit at the time.

Modi disclosed his marital status for the first time on 9 April, when he filed his nomination for the Lok Sabha elections from the Vadodara seat. He had then mentioned the name of his wife Jashodaben in the affidavit filed with the nomination papers.

Sheikh in his order said, ''The complainant (Verma) has alleged that on November 30, 2012, accused No 1 (Modi) had filed affidavit in prescribed format but 'concealed' name of his wife by leaving the space for marital status blank. By leaving the space blank though an offence was committed under section 125 (a) (3) of R P Act, cognisance of the offence cannot be taken under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) section 468 as the complaint (by Verma) was filed after time period of one year and four months.''

Section 125 (a) (3) of the Act deals with penalty for concealing information while filing affidavit while contesting elections and provides for imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months. However, cognizance of the offence can be taken only if complaint is filed within one year of filing the affidavit.

The magistrate dismissed Verma's petition observing that since the complaint was filed after the time limit prescribed in R P Act, cognizance of offence against Modi cannot be taken.

Verma's lawyers K R Koshti and Samshad Pathan said that they would appeal against the order.