The Kerala High Court on Wednesday, 25 January, suspended the conviction and sentence of Lakshadweep MP Muhammed Faizal and three others in the attempt to murder case.
According to LiveLaw, Justice Bechu Kurian Joseph of the Kerala High Court noted in his order that it was necessary to infuse purity in politics and democracy, and that the decriminalisation of politics was an essential requirement of every democracy.
However, the court added that lofty principles could not be the reason for denying the application of the principles of the rule of law.
“The societal interest in averting an expensive election that too when the elected candidate can continue for a limited period alone if a fresh election is conducted cannot be brushed aside by the court. The societal interest and the need to have purity in politics in elections will have to be balanced, in this context, the circumstance at the appeal is a statutory right and under Section 393 CrPC, finality is attached only to the judgment of the appellate Court assumes significance,” the order read.
It added that on consideration of the various legal and other circumstances as the special features arising in the case, especially those relating to the 2nd petitioner: “This court is of the view that the case of the second petitioner falls within the category of rare and exceptional circumstances. The ramification of suspending the conviction are enormous and this Court is of the view that the conviction and sentence of imprisonment imposed upon the second accused must be suspended until dismissed with the appeal.”
On 11 January, a sessions court in Lakshadweep sentenced four people, including Mohammed Faizal and his brothers, to 10 years of imprisonment and a ₹1 lakh fine for attempting to murder Muhammed Salih, son-in-law of former union minister PM Sayeed, during the Lok Sabha polls of 2009.
Plea by Lakshadweep administration
On 17 January, the Lakshadweep administration filed a petition in the Kerala High Court opposing the bail plea of Faizal, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, in the case.
The petition stated that releasing the convicts on bail would “shake the people’s faith in the judicial process”.
In the objections filed by the Union Territory (UT) of Lakshadweep, through the Deputy Solicitor General of India (DSGI) Manu S, it said that the former MP was also facing trial in two other criminal cases, and the offence committed by him shocked the society of the island archipelago, where few crimes are reported.
Therefore, his release would send a wrong message to society, the island administration said.
The administration added that the disqualified MP had “proved to be a person with a criminal bent of mind”.
“The fact that he is facing trial in a case registered by the CBI and also facing investigation in another case registered by the CBI for serious offences shows that he is unfit to be a lawmaker,” it said.
Lakshadweep session court order
The Lakshadweep sessions court order stated that the accused had been found guilty under Sections 143, 147, 148, 448, 427, 324, 342, 307, and 506 of the IPC.
The court also held that the intention of the accused was to murder Mohammed Salih due to political rivalry, but they could not succeed in their attempt.
The court also stated that political clashes were on the rise, and could be bridled only by stringent punishment.
According to the prosecution, Faizal and 36 other accused, along with some other identifiable persons, armed with deadly weapons, committed the offence of rioting and voluntarily caused hurt to Salih after wrongfully confining him and his friend Mohammed Kassim at a place on Androth island.
“This is nothing but a sort of social sclerosis which can be guillotined only by imposing stringent punishment on them. So the accused are liable for maximum punishment. Since the accused have inflicted grievous hurt on PW1 they are liable for punishment of imprisonment for life,” the judgement read.
Supreme Court to hear plea against EC
The former Lakshadweep MP has also moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission (EC) for releasing a press note that announced the conduct of a byelection in the Lakshadweep constituency.
The EC, on 18 January, said the bypoll to the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant following the disqualification of Faizal as an MP, would be held on 27 February, along with the by-elections to six Assembly seats spread over five states.
Faizal said in his petition that with the impugned “Press Note”, the poll panel was proposing to fill the seat without awaiting the outcome of his plea for a stay of conviction and sentence in the high court.
He contended that the EC’s statement was “arbitrary, unlawful, and mala fide”.
The case is scheduled for further hearing in Supreme Court on 27 January.
(With PTI inputs.)