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Appeal For Votes In Name Of Religion : Kerala HC Declares Election Of K M Shaji Void

Th election of K M Shaji, the returned candidate of Indian Union Muslim League from Azhikode constituency in 2016 assembly polls, has been declared void by the High Court of Kerala. The High Court has however stayed the operation of the judgment for a period of two weeks.

The Court held that he had indulged in corrupt practises under Section 123(3) and 123(4) of the Representation of Peoples Act by appealing for votes in the name of religion and also by spreading false statements in relation of personal conduct of the opponent candidate with the intent to prejudice his winning prospects. Therefore, election was declared void on the ground under Section 100(d)(ii) of the Act in exercise of powers under Section 98.

The judgment was delivered by Justice P D Rajan  acting on an election petition filed by M V Nikesh Kumar, the defeated candidate belonging to CPI(M). The Court however rejected the prayer of Nikesh Kumar to declare him as the elected candidate. The Court also ordered the payment of Rs.50,000 as costs to Nikesh Kumar.

Re-election has been ordered in Azhikode constitutency. K M Shaji has also incurred disqualification for contesting elections for six years from today.

Nikesh Kumar alleged that various pamphlets were distributed during campaigning which appealed to the voters to refrain from casting votes to a non-Muslim candidate. The pamphlets also urged voters to cast their votes in favour of a devout practising Muslim like K M Shaji.

“Shaji was informed by the Nodal Officers and District Collector on several occasions about communal pamphlets being circulated in his name. Several such pamphlets were seized from the residence of President of Valapattanam Panchayath, who belonged to Congress, a partner of IUML in the UDF alliance. Therefore, he was presumed to have knowledge of the communal pamphlets”, T B Hood, lawyer who appeared for Nikesh Kumar, told Live Law. Senior Advocate Gopalakrishna Kurup appeared for Nikesh Kumar.

The Court held that Shaji could not prove that the communal pamphlets were issued without his knowledge and consent.

After the judgment was delivered in the morning, Shaji moved an application under Section 116B of the Representation of Peoples Act seeking its stay until appeal is filed in the Supreme Court. He prayed that the judgment will render the constituency without a representative with immediate effect, which will affect public interest. Considering the application in the afternoon, Justice P D Rajan stayed the operation of the judgment for a period of two weeks on condition of depositing an amount of Rs.50,000 within a week.

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