A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the notification of the Lok Sabha Secretariat restoring the membership of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal after the Kerala High Court stayed his conviction and sentence in a criminal case.
On March 29, the top court disposed of the NCP leader’s plea against his disqualification as a Member of Parliament in the wake of the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s notification restoring his membership.
The plea filed by advocate Ashok Pandey asked whether the conviction of an accused can be stayed by the court of appeal and if, based on it, a Lok Sabha member’s disqualification can be revoked.
Seeking quashing of the notification dated March 29, Pandey through his plea contended that once a member of Parliament or a state legislature loses his or her office by operation of law in articles 102 ans 191 read with section 8 (3)of the Representation of the People Act (RP Act) l951, the individual will continue to be disqualified till acquitted from the charges by a higher court.
The plea said, “In view of the order of the high court of Kerala staying the conviction of Mohammad Faizal, the petitioner also prays to this court to kindly decide the issue as to whether the conviction of an accused can be stayed by the court of appeal and whether on the basis of stay of conviction, a person who has suffered disqualification, will become qualified to choose as or for being a member of Parliament/State legislature”.
He said that Faizal lost his Lok Sabha membership when he was convicted under Section 307 of IPC in a criminal case and was awarded ten years sentence and as such the Speaker was not right in restoring his membership.
“That by means of this petition being filed under Article 32 of the Constitution, the petitioner is praying to this court to kindly interpret the provisions contained in articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution read with section 8 (3) of the Representation of People (RP) Act 1951.
“The necessity to file this petition arose when the Speaker of Lok Sabha relying upon an order passed by the high court of Kerala, thereby staying the order of conviction, restored the lost membership of Mohammad Faizal”, it said.
Faizal was disqualified from Lok Sabha from January 11, the date of his conviction by a sessions court in Kavaratti, according to a notification issued on January 13 by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
Later, on January 25, the high court suspended his conviction and sentence until disposal of the appeal before it, saying that not doing so would result in fresh elections for his vacant seat which would impose an immense financial burden on the government and the public.
Meanwhile, on the ay his plea was disposed of, the top court while hearing an appeal of Union Territory against the Kerala High Court order had told Faizal that there cannot be a separate norm for a lawmaker on suspension of conviction and sentence in a criminal case.
It had said, “When there is a prima facie opinion based on materials before the court that it is a case of acquittal only then suspension of conviction and sentence can be done. There cannot be a separate norm for Members of Parliament and Member of Legislative Assembly for suspension of conviction and sentences.”
The remarks were made by the court after senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for Faizal, said that what weighed in the mind of the Kerala High Court while suspending his conviction and sentence is that he is an elected representative and if his conviction and sentence are not stayed, it will lead to his disqualification and subsequently, polls need to be held.
The apex court had said that it has to be done in exceptional circumstances when the conviction needs to be stayed and it cannot be a norm.
On February 20, the top court issued notice to Faizal on the plea of Union Territory challenging the order of the Kerala High Court.
Earlier, the Union territory administration said the suspension of Faizal’s conviction and sentence in an attempt to murder case by the Kerala High Court will have wider ramifications.
It had said that the high court had erred in suspending the conviction and sentence of Faizal.
On January 30, the top court agreed to hear a plea by the Lakshadweep administration challenging the January 25 order of the high court that had suspended the conviction of Faizal.