Devendra Fadnavis’s cousin Sanjay Fadnavis had made a threatening call to advocate Abhiyan Barahate at 1 am between March 5 and 6. Barahate had been working for obtaining information pertaining to the judge BH Loya’s mysterious death. While making the call, Fadnavis informed Barahate that he was aware about the “big work” done by the latter. He further told Barahate that “we are coming in even in 2019,” and warned him to not “complain” later when he is “picked up by the police,” thrown “behind bars” and “gets fucked in the ass.” Sanjay is the son of the Chief Minister’s paternal uncle. He is known to be politically active on behalf of his cousin in Nagpur. Many people around allege that, from extortion to threatening people and settling the matters on behalf of Fadnavis, are done by Sanjay. Barahate had forwarded a written complaint to the Police Commissioner of Nagpur about the “criminal intimidation in filthy language” by Sanjay Fadnavis on March 6. Through this letter Barahate has explained to the Commissioner that he had met Fadnavis during the 2014 assembly elections in the state while the latter had been campaigning for his cousin Devendra.
According to Barahate’s letter, the two exchanged numbers, and subsequently met on various occasions, but had not been in touch for at least the past year. Barahate added that he was “deliberately keeping distance” from those affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party because he had begun working with Satish Uke, a lawyer and activist for whom he began appearing before various government authorities and organisations.
Uke further mentioned that he had been helping the lawyer-activist in amassing information regarding the mysterious death of the judge BH Loya, via Right to Information (RTI) applications. Barahate has represented Uke in a number of cases in the Bombay High Court. In light of the threatening call from the Chief Minister’s brother, he also filed an application with the Bombay High Court to withdraw the vakalatnama filed in one of these cases. Uke has been working to collect information and documents pertaining to Judge Loya’s death for a few years now. At the time of his death, Loya was hearing the case regarding the allegedly staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which the prime accused was Amit Shah.
In the past too, Sanjay Fadnavis had threatened a lawyer for filing a petition against CM’s election irregularities in Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. While filing the election affidavit for 2014 assembly election, the CM had mentioned that 22 police cases were registered against him. Whereas the fact is that 24 police cases are going on against him. One of the cases was registered under Section 420 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and a lower court had granted bail to the CM. The case is still going on in the court. A lawyer Satish Uke had filed a PIL against Fadnavis in this case. His junior lawyer Abhiyan Barahate was representing him. CM’s cousin Sanjay Fadnavis called up Barahate and threatened him to withdraw the petition. Subsequently, Barahate had lodged a complaint with Ajni police but a case was yet to be registered against Sanjay Fadnavis. Finally, the matter was taken up by some section of media and the audio of Sanjay Fadnavis went viral on social media. Nagpur district collector should be punished for not disqualifying Fadnavis for providing misleading information in his election affidavit.
Fadnavis had contested assembly election from the Nagpur South West constituency in 2014. A special division bench comprising Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Arun Upadhye had adjourned the hearing by four weeks. The petitioner, who appeared in-person, challenged Fadnavis’ elections under Section 100(1)(d)(i) and (iv) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for improper acceptance of his nomination papers by returning officer. He contended that the CM deliberately suppressed pendency of two criminal cases against him in affidavit, thus misleading the voters. High Court did not grant any relief to the petitioner in this matter. At present, out of the 22 cases, 20 cases have been closed and only one private complaint is being heard in the court. This is not the first instance when Fadnavis sources have threatened someone.
Uke’s path has crossed paths with the Fadnavis family earlier as well — after a Bombay High Court bench comprising the justices Bhushan Gavai and VM Deshpande passed an order, in 2014, quashing an FIR against Devendra Fadnavis, Uke filed an application for the recall of this order. The court dismissed this application, but Uke persisted, filing a special leave petition challenging the High Court’s order in the Supreme Court, which was also dismissed. Uke then returned to the Bombay High Court. He continued to file numerous petitions and applications related to the case until January 2016, when, while hearing one such petition, RK Deshpande initiated contempt proceedings against him. Uke was subsequently convicted for criminal contempt, and fined Rs 2,000. He was also sentenced to prison for two months. He filed an appeal against this decision in the Supreme Court, which the court dismissed in August that year. A review petition against the dismissal is still pending before the Supreme Court.
Uke’s association with Loya became public in recent months, after a magazine published a series of reports regarding the suspicious circumstances surrounding the judge’s death in Nagpur in 2014, purportedly of a heart attack. On January 31, the lawyer-activist appeared among the speakers during a press conference led by the senior advocate Kapil Sibal, on behalf of the Congress party. Sibal recounted to the press Uke’s account of his interactions with Loya.
After being in power for more than three years, Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis’s administration is facing severe allegations of corruption that could singe him. Although, Fadnavis’s personal reputation seems intact, his image has nevertheless taken a beating by the fact that he has been played for a fool, not once but twice by people supposed to be close to him.
However, the recent act by his cousin may not go well with BJP voters in Maharashtra. Let’s see what action the CM is going to take against his cousin.
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