Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who disclosed his status as a married man for the first time in public at the time of filing his nomination from Vadodara earlier this year, is said to have committed an offence by withholding the information at the time of contesting Assembly polls in Gujarat in 2012.
An Ahmedabad court on Monday held that Modi had committed an offence under the Representation of People Act by not disclosing his marital status in the affidavit while filing his nomination two years ago. However, the court said that since the complaint against Modi had come after the lapse of the time bar for such cases, no FIR will be filed against him.
The time limit to file a complaint for such cases under the Act is one year from the time of offence, but the complaint in this case, filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Nishant Verma, came about four months after the prescribed period.
"An offence is committed under section 125(A) (3) of Representation of People (RP) Act by not disclosing facts," The Hindustan Times quoted additional chief judicial magistrate MM Sheikh. He added that "as per the Code of Criminal Procedure 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 Act."
Section 125-A(3) of the Representation of People Act deals with the offence of concealing information while filing the affidavit and provides for imprisonment for a term, which may extend to a maximum of six months.
Stating that since the complaint was submitted after a year and four months of the alleged offence by Modi, the court held that "the cognizance of complaint cannot be taken and an FIR cannot be lodged now".
However, the AAP leader has now vowed to move the Supreme Court over the issue.
Modi's disclosure of his marital status had created a furor after he said in his affidavit that he was married to Jashodaben. He had earlier always left the column about 'Spouse' blank while filing affidavits for contesting elections.
Jashodaben, who the media identified as a retired school teacher living in Mehsana district of Gujarat, is said to be living a meager life under the radar. The two are said to have gotten married when they were 18, but have been living separate lives since Modi joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, reported The Indian Express. However, he never annulled his marriage either.
Meanwhile, when the issue came to light, Modi's brother Sombhai Modi claimed that the marriage was forced on his brother under the traditions of the Ghanchi caste in Vadnagar.