What will happen to Lakshadweep byelection as HC suspends conviction of Mohammed Faizal?

Mohammed Faizal being released from Kannur central prison | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kochi: Former Lakshadweep MP and Nationalist Congress leader (NCP) leader PP Mohammed Faizal is likely to be reinstated as a member of the Lok Sabha soon. On Wednesday, the Kerala High Court suspended the conviction and sentence of Faizal in an attempt to murder case. The court also clarified that his disqualification as a Parliament member will no longer be valid.

Earlier, the Lok Sabha Speaker had disqualified him following his conviction by a session court. The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced a byelection in Lakshadweep on February 27. After the HC nullified the sessions court order, Faizal’s advocate wrote to the ECI asking to suspend the byelection process. The notification was scheduled to be released on 31 January.

Faizal has approached the Supreme Court against the decision to hold byelection. The case will be heard on January 27. Besides, HC noted that a fresh election ahead of 2024 general elections will be a burden on the people.

The Additional Solicitor General had argued that even if the lower court's order is suspended, the NCP leader cannot be reinstated as MP. But the HC rejected this argument.

In a 2013 case, Lily Thomas v Union of India, the Supreme Court clarified that a person could be reinstated as MP if a higher court suspended the lower court's order to punish a parliamentarian.

The court has clarified this in the case of Ravikant S. Patil vs Sarvabhouma S. Bagali as well.

The Lakshadweep administration is likely to appeal the HC order before the Supreme Court. As it stands, he could continue as MP until further orders.

Earlier, the Kavaratti Sessions Court had convicted four persons, including Faizal, for committing offences punishable under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 143, 147, 148, 307, 324, 342, 448, 427, 506 read with 149 relating to offences relating to rioting, attempt to murder, violence, kidnapping.

They were all sentenced to undergo 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and were also directed to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh each for attempting to murder Padanath Salih, the son-in-law of former Union Minister PM Sayeed concerning a political controversy during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

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