Attempt to murder case: Disqualified MP Mohammed Faizal moves SC challenging Kerala HC order

NCP leader Mohammed Faizal has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Kerala High Court order rejecting his plea for suspending his conviction in an attempt to murder case which resulted in his disqualification as Lok Sabha MP for a second time this year.

After the high court’s October 3 order, he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Faizal represented Lakshadweep in Parliament,

“In view of 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 had stated.

While declining to suspend his conviction, the high court had, however, suspended the 10-year sentence awarded to Faizal and three others in the case.

A sessions court in Lakshadweep had sentenced Faizal and three others on January 11 for attempting to kill Mohammed Salih, son-in-law of the late union minister P M Sayeed, during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

In his plea filed in the apex court, Faizal has claimed the high court had 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 had failed to appreciate that the electorate of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep would also suffer grave prejudice and hardship if Faizal’s conviction is not suspended.

The petition said the high court had also failed to appreciate that the incident of April 16, 2009 was “clearly a political dispute” as he belonged to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) while the four eye-witnesses, including the complainant, owed allegiance to the Indian National Congress.

“There are no independent witnesses in this case despite the alleged incident having taken place in the evening between 5-5.30 PM in the open,” it said.

In his prayer for interim relief, Faizal has 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 had noted that criminalisation of the election process was a matter of grave concern in India’s democratic polity.

Faizal had earlier moved the high court against the trial court’s order and the high court had suspended his conviction and sentence on January 25.

The January 25 decision of the high court was challenged by the Lakshadweep administration in the apex court.

Terming as “erroneous” the high court’s approach, the top court had on August 22 set aside its verdict suspending Faizal’s conviction but shielded him from immediate disqualification by keeping in abeyance the operation of its order for six weeks.

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The apex court had temporarily protected the status of Faizal 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 member on January 25, days after a sessions court in Kavaratti had convicted him and three others on charges of attempting to murder Salih and sentenced all the four to rigourous imprisonment of 10 years.

Faizal’s disqualification was revoked on March 29 after the high court had suspended his conviction and sentence in the case.

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