Gujarat High Court dismisses plea against Modi in 2014 selfie case

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition that sought a review of a lower court order rejecting the plea for a case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on charge of breach of electoral code of conduct in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Modi had addressed an impromptu press conference and clicked a selfie with his Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) lotus symbol after casting vote in Ahmedabad in the last general elections.

The review petition was filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) worker Nishant Verma to challenge an order of Chief Judicial Magistrate of Ahmedabad Rural Court, S.R. Singh, who in May dismissed the plea on the basis of a closure report filed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch police that gave a clean chit to Modi in the case.

Verma had sought legal action against Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat, for alleged breach of code of conduct.

He said Modi had not only addressed a press conference on April 30, a day of voting in the multi-phase elections, near a polling station in Ranip area in Ahmedabad but also took a selfie with his cell phone while displaying the BJP’s election symbol after exercising his franchise.

Upholding the lower court order, Justice J.B. Pardiwala observed that the plea was appropriately rejected. The high court refused to accept that the magistrate had not followed proper procedure while disposing of the petition.

“As per my interpretation, the magistrate has the power to reject and it was done in an appropriate manner; so, I hereby reject the petition,” said Justice Pardiwala.

The high court had concluded hearings in the case on October 27 and reserved its verdict on Verma’s review petition.

The case was to be originally heard in the court of Justice G.R. Udhwani on October 6 but he recused himself soon after admitting the matter on September 28.