Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Supreme Court disposes of plea filed by former Lakshadweep MP against Election Commission bypoll notification after his conviction

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The Supreme Court on Friday disposed of the writ petition filed by former Member of Parliament Mohammaed Faizal, challenging the announcement of by-elections in Lakshadweep by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph observed that following the stay on conviction of the former MP by the Kerala High Court, the Election Commission has decided to proceed further under the existing rules in the new situation.

Appearing for Faizal, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that the by-election could not be held, since the Kerala High Court had stayed Faizal’s conviction.
Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Election Commission, submitted that the petition, which was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution did not survive, as it was for the Commission to take a call. 

The Counsel further took objection to the petition calling the EC’s announcement of bypolls as mala fide. 

The Apex Court noted that before announcing the by-eletions, the Commission should have taken efforts to find out whether any petition had been filed on the matter.

Sibal then submitted that normally, the Commission took six months time to hold an election, but in the present case, they issued the notification within a week of Faizal’s conviction. 

On January 11, a Sessions Court in Lakshadweep had convicted the Nationalist Congress Party leader in an attempt to murder case of 2017 and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment.

Two days after his conviction, the Lok Sabha Secretary General on January 13, issued a notification announcing his disqualification. 

On January 18, the ECI held a press conference and announced the by-elections to the Union Territory on February 27.

Faizal challenged this announcement in the Supreme Court. On January 20, the matter was mentioned by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal before the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud for urgent listing. The Apex Court listed the petition for hearing on January 27.

The High Court of Kerala, on January 25, had quashed the sentence of 10 years awarded to  Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal and three others by a Kavaratti court in connection with an attempt to murder case.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas noted that it was necessary to maintain a fine balance between the societal interest and the need to have purity in politics & elections.

Faizal had challenged the order passed by the Session Court of Kavaratti, which convicted the accused for offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 148, 448, 427, 324, 342, 307, 506 r/w 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Sessions Court awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment on Faizal and other accused, besides imposing a fine of Rs one lakh each on the convicts for attempting to kill Mohammed Salih, son-in-law of former Union Minister P.M. Sayeed, during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

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