An Ahmedabad court today held that though Narendra Modi had committed an offence under RP Act by not disclosing his marital status while contesting Assembly polls in 2012, a petition seeking registration of an FIR against him cannot be entertained due to a time-bar prescribed for such cases.
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate MM Sheikh of Ahmedabad (rural) court passed an order to this effect while disposing of an application by an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Nishant Verma which sought FIR to be registered against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "hiding" his marital status in the affidavit he had filed with his nomination in 2012.
The court said "an offence is committed under section 125(A)(3) of Representation of People (RP) Act by not disclosing facts" about Modi's marital status. Section 125-A(3) of RP Act deals with penalty for concealing information while filing affidavit and provides for imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months.
The court, however, said as per CrPC section 468(2)(B), the complaint for the offence has to be made within one year in cases related to the violation of section 125(A)(3) of the RP Act.
As the complaint was submitted after a year and four months of alleged offence "cognizance of complaint cannot be taken and an FIR can not be lodged now", the court said. CrPC section 468 prescribes limitations to non-serious cases where the imprisonment term does not exceed three years.
"No court shall take cognizance of an offence of the category after the expiry of the period of limitation," reads section 468 of CrPC. Section 468(2)(B) limits the period to one year for filing complaints for an offence that is punishable with a term not exceeding one year.
Violation of section 125(A) of RP Act attracts a maximum penalty of six months. Verma had knocked the court's door in April this year after Ranip police station authorities turned down his request to register an FIR against Modi for "hiding" facts about his marital status in his 2012 affidavit.
He had also sought action against the Returning Officer of Maninagar Assembly constituency PK Jedeja for accepting the affidavit at that time.
Modi disclosed his marital status and the name of his wife Jashodaben for the first time in the affidavit he swore while filing his nomination for Vadodara Lok Sabha seat this year. He earlier used to leave the column relating to the spouse blank while contesting Assembly elections in Gujarat.
Verma's counsel said they would challenge the order in a the Supreme Court. "We will challenge the verdict. Even the court has said an offence was committed by Modi. Since we filed the application after specific time limit, our plea was rejected. Now, we are thinking of filing an application in the Supreme Court," Verma's counsel KR Koshti said.