Wednesday, February 6, 2019

HC fines Gadhada Swaminarayan temple chairma

Gujarat high court has slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the chairman of Gadhada’s famous Swaminarayan temple, Kanubhai Kanani, for seeking removal of retired HC judge S M Soni from the post of election officer for the polls scheduled for the Shree Gopinathji Dev Mandir Trust.
Justice Bela Trivedi was furious at the demand for removal of Justice Soni, who was appointed to supervise the temple’s controversial election by the Supreme Court on December 13. The apex court appointed him after both the contesting parties – the trust and a group of devotees – gave consent for Justice Soni’s name.
The court was also angry because it found the petition very contemptuous to the SC order and for dragging Justice Soni to litigation unnecessarily after not cooperating with him in election process. The court also found the petition’s drafting very offending and thought of initiating contempt of court proceedings against the lawyer who had drafted the petition. However,senior counsel Shalin Mehta did not reveal the name of the advocate and requested for a pardon.
During the hearing of the petition, Justice Soni sent his resignation letter to the high court on January 25.
Interestingly, the litigants in this matter had first objected to retired sessions judge K J Upadhyay as election officer by casting aspersions on him and accusing him of partiality. The high court removed judge Upadhyay and decided to appoint a retired HC judge as election officer. Finally, the SC appointed Justice Soni for the task with directions to complete the elections in eight weeks’ time.
The trust’s chairman approached the HC again accusing the retired HC judge of partiality, and demanded the judge Upadhyay may be assigned with the duty of election officer in place of Justice Soni.
The court dismissed Kanani’s petition by ordering him to pay the fine within two weeks. The court also expressed displeasure with the conduct of the petitioner and with the tenor in which the petition was drafted.

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