(Eds: Adding fresh details) Nagpur, Dec 4 (PTI) A Nagpur court on Wednesday granted former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis exemption from appearance for the day in the case where he is accused of concealing information about two criminal matters against him in an election affidavit.
The court also fixed January 4, 2020 as the next date of hearing in the case.
Fadnavis' lawyer Uday Dable sought an exemption from appearance for his client before the court on Wednesday, which was granted by Judicial Magistrate First Class S D Mehta.
City-based lawyer Satish Uke, who earlier filed an application in the magistrate's court seeking that criminal proceedings be initiated against Fadnavis, sought an early hearing in the case.
However, Dable said that Fadnavis, who is leader of opposition in the state Assembly, will be busy with the legislature session starting from December 16 in Nagpur.
Therefore, he urged the court that the next date of hearing be kept after the conclusion of the Assembly session.
The winter session of the state legislature is scheduled to be held from December 16 to 21 in Nagpur.
Following arguments from both the sides, the magistrate fixed January 4 as the next date of hearing.
Earlier, Dable told the court that Fadnavis could not appear for the hearing due to some 'unavoidable work'.
The counsel said Fadnavis' intention was not to delay the trial and proceedings.
'He is not available today due to some unavoidable work. His identity is not disputed and he is properly represented by his counsel, and his absence would not hamper the proceedings of the court,' Dable said.
However, Uke asked the court to issue a non-bailable warrant against the accused.
The petitioner said Fadnavis did not appear before the court as he had 'pre-decided' to seek an exemption for appearance on Wednesday.
Uke cited a report published in a national daily on November 4 in which Fadnavis' counsel stated that the BJP leader need not personally remain present on the date and can seek an extension.
But, he has to personally come to the court and seek bail for himself on whichever date is subsequently fixed, Uke said quoting Fadnavis' counsel.
The petitioner said Fadnavis was supposed to appear personally or through his pleader in the court.
But, his counsel Dable appeared before the court without Fadnavis' 'vakalatnama' (a document by which a party authorises an advocate to represent on his/her behalf) or any document bearing the BJP leader's signature, Uke said.
Fadnavis is an MLA from Nagpur.
On November 1, the magistrate's court restored Uke's application seeking criminal proceedings against the BJP leader for alleged non-disclosure.
The Bombay High Court had upheld the lower court's earlier order dismissing Uke's plea.
But the Supreme Court, on October 1, directed the magistrate's court to go ahead with the application filed by Uke.
The magistrate's court on November 4 said the case would be held as a summary criminal case, and issued notice.
Cases of cheating and forgery were filed against Fadnavis in 1996 and 1998, but charges were not framed in both the matters.
Uke alleged that Fadnavis did not disclose this information in his election affidavits. PTI CLS MR NSK GK GK