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The Bombay High Court recently slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on a politician who lied to the Court about the number of children she had in order to bypass a two-child policy imposed in Maharashtra for contesting regional elections.
Expressing his disapproval of the petitioner’s conduct in the case, Justice Ravindra V Ghuge remarked,
“This case also indicates the level to which a person can stoop low for fulfilling political aspirations.“
Shedding light about frauds carried out by politicians to bypass disqualification, the judge also observed,
“The situation is, therefore, quite grim and alarming. It is astonishing that the litigants dare to abuse the process of law by blatantly lying before this court. Affidavits are filed by the elected representatives disowning their children from avoiding a disqualification for having more than two children born after the cut-off date September 13, 2000.”
In 2017, the petitioner politician was disqualified by the District Collector for having more than two children. Her third child was found to have been born after September 13, 2000.
Pertinently, it was on this date that a two-child limit was introduced for persons contesting elections in Maharashtra with prospective effect. The policy barred people with more than two children born after the cut-off date from contesting panchayat, block level, district level, and municipal elections. Prior to that, candidates could have any number of children.
Her 2017 disqualification prompted the petitioner to file a writ petition, which was dismissed by the Aurangabad Bench of High Court. Later, she filed a review application to the Additional Divisional Commissioner (ADC), Aurangabad, who admitted the same and remanded it to the District Collector. According to the Bombay High Court, the petitioner had already suppressed several facts at this stage.
The politician had claimed that her husband had a second wife, who had gone missing. The District Collector, however, concluded that there is no such human being, as the petitioner could not establish her existence. The ADC declined to entertain the appeal filed by the petitioner, after which she made another plea before the Bombay High Court.
At this juncture, the petitioner-politician also lied to the Court that a fourth child, born after the cut-off date, was born out of a relationship between her husband and his mysterious second wife.
The Court, however, found that these claims were made only so that the petitioner could avoid disqualification. Terming the same as mischief and raising concern over the misrepresentation of facts by political candidates, the Court said,
“I find that persons like the petitioner and her husband, in order to fulfil their political ambitions, do not hesitate to abuse the process of law by playing a fraud not only on the authorities, but even on this court. Such tribe is growing.”
The lawyer representing the state submitted that the petitioner created a make-believe picture of the second wife of her husband and that it is conspicuous that the husband has not lodged any complaint with respect to the allegedly missing second wife.
When the Court scrutinised the case records, it also took note of several discrepancies, particularly in view of submissions made by the petitioner regarding her children.The Court further noted earlier submissions denoting the couple’s willingness to undergo a DNA test had not been entered in the additional affidavit filed by the couple.
With the Court taking note of the discrepancies in her submissions, the petitioner sought leave to withdraw her petition. However, the Court instead opted to dismiss the writ petition while also imposing a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
The Bench has directed that half the amount be transferred to a government cancer hospital in Aurangabad for treatment of poor patients. The Court also confirmed that the petitioner and her husband would stand disqualified from contesting any election that attracts disqualification for having more than two children.
[Read the Judgment]