Nationalist Congress Party leader Mohammed Faizal has moved the Supreme Court challenging a Kerala High Court order that rejected his plea to suspend his conviction in an attempt to murder case which resulted in his disqualification as an MP of the Lok Sabha for the second time this year.
After the High Court’s October 3 order, Mr Faizal was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. He represented Lakshadweep in Parliament.
“In view of the order dated 03.10.2023 of the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala, Shri Mohammed Faizal P.P., Member of Lok Sabha representing the Lakshadweep Parliamentary Constituency of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction, i.e. 11th January 2023,” a Lok Sabha Secretariat bulletin read.
While refusing to suspend his conviction, the High Court had, however, suspended the 10-year sentence awarded to him and three others in the case.
A sessions court in Lakshadweep had sentenced Faizal and three others on January 11 for allegedly attempting to kill Mohammed Salih, the son-in-law of former Union Minister PM Sayeed, during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
In his plea filed in the top court, Mohammed Faizal claimed the High Court failed to appreciate that on account of his conviction and sentence for the offence of attempt to murder under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, “the petitioner’s entire career will be ruined”. His petition said section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, imposes a wide-ranging and “drastic period of disqualification, commencing from the date of conviction and lasting for six years after the release”.
“The petitioner will stay disqualified even for the period during which the appeal remains pending. The consequences on the petitioner are irreversible and drastic,” the plea said.
It claimed the High Court failed to appreciate that the electorate of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep would also suffer grave prejudice and hardship if Mr Faizal’s conviction was not suspended.
The petition said the High Court also failed to appreciate that the incident of April 16, 2009, was “clearly a political dispute” as he belonged to the NCP while the four eye-witnesses, including the complainant, owed allegiance to the Congress.
“There are no independent witnesses in this case despite the alleged incident having taken place in the evening between 5 pm and 5:30 pm out in the open,” it said.
In his prayer for interim relief, Mr Faizal sought a stay on his conviction during the pendency of the petition.
In its order rejecting the plea for suspending the NCP lawmaker’s conviction, the High Court noted that criminalisation of the election process was a matter of grave concern for India’s democratic polity.
Mohammed Faizal had earlier moved the High Court against the trial court’s order and the High Court suspended his conviction and sentence on January 25.
The January 25 decision of the High Court was challenged by the Lakshadweep administration in the top court.
Terming the High Court’s approach “erroneous”, the top court on August 22 set aside its verdict suspending Mohammed Faizal’s conviction but shielded him from immediate disqualification by keeping in abeyance the operation of its order for six weeks.
The Supreme Court temporarily protected Mohammed Faizal’s status as an MP, saying the benefit of the High Court’s order staying the suspension, will remain in operation during the period keeping in mind that there should not be any “vacuum” with regard to representation of the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha constituency in Parliament.
It had remanded the matter back to the High Court and asked it to decide afresh his application seeking a stay of his conviction within this period.
He was earlier disqualified as Lok Sabha MP on January 25, days after a sessions court in Kavaratti convicted him and three others on charges of attempting to murder Mohammed Salih and sentenced them to a rigourous imprisonment of 10 years.
Mohammed Faizal’s disqualification was revoked on March 29 after the High Court suspended his conviction and sentence in the case.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)