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BREAKING| Kerala High Court Suspends Conviction Of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal In Attempt To Murder Case

Athira Prasad
25 Jan 2023 5:51 AM GMT
BREAKING| Kerala High Court Suspends Conviction Of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal In Attempt To Murder Case

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday suspended the conviction and sentence of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal and three others in a case of attempt to murder.

Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal had moved an appeal challenging the decision of the Court of Session, Kavaratti to convict and sentence him and three others to 10 years in jail in a case of attempt to murder.

Faizal and the three other accused persons on Wednesday were convicted for offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 148, 448, 427, 324, 342, 307, 506 r/w 149 of IPC and sentenced by the Sessions Court to undergo 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on the convicts for attempting to kill Mohammed Salih, son-in-law of former Union Minister P M Sayeed, during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Subsequently, he has also been disqualified by the Lok Sabha Secretariat from the Lower House of Parliament.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas observed that

It is necessary that purity in politics and, consequently, in democracy is required to be infused. The decriminalisation of politics is an essential requirement of every democracy. As a constitutional court, it is the bounden duty to advance the constitutional objectives, including purity in politics. However, those lofty principles cannot be the reason for denying the application of the principles of 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 the fresh election is conducted, cannot be brushed aside by this court. The societal interest and the need to have purity in politics and elections will have to be balanced.

Therefore considering the various legal and other circumstances and the special features arising in this case, especially those relating to the second petitioner, this Court is of the view that the case of the second petitioner falls within the category of rare and exceptional circumstances. The ramifications of not suspending the conviction are enormous.

Hence this Court is of the view that the conviction and sentence of imprisonment imposed upon the second accused in SC 1/2017 on the files of the Sessions Court, Kavarthi, Union Territory of Lakshadweep should be suspended until disposal of the appeal.

The prosecution case was that the accused along with 33 accused formed themselves into an unlawful assembly and caused hurt to Salih with weapons.

When the matter was taken up hearing the previous day, the Counsel appearing for the appellant argued that the trial court judgment and sentence is against the law, facts and evidence. Faizal and others have averred that the evidence is "partisan/ interested" without any corroboration as the evidence consisted of the depositions of Salih and two other workers of the Congress party and the accused belong to NCP.

Submitting the weapons were not recovered, the appellants have said that the doctors had said that the injuries suffered were not life-threatening and cannot be caused by sharp weapons described by the witnesses.

The injured and the other two witnesses do not have a consistent case and their evidence does not inspire confidence as they contradict each other on material points, according to the appeal.

The Counsel further submitted that an application was filed on the previous day with respect to the production of Final Report which is pending consideration before the Magistrate Court. "The time, place of occurrence and the parties involved in this case are the same as that of the persons who are involved in the case subject to appeal. Therefore, this is a case in counter," the Counsel said while pointing out that when there is a case in counter, the case in counter has to be disposed of by the same judge concession.

In an objection filed by the Special Prosecutor for the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, it was submitted that the Sessions Judge had analysed the evidence of the case from a proper perspective and found that the appellants are guilty of the offences and had imposed a proportionate sentence. It was submitted that the impugned judgement is perfectly valid in the eye of the law and does not call for interference. Further, it is averred that the assault on the defacto complainant was in continuation of an instance in which the appellants threatened a family of supporters of the Indian National Congress from voting in the election and that the turn of events would reveal that the appellants were trying to exert undue influence in the electoral process and intended to physically harm the political opponents.

It was further contended that the incident which led to the registration of crime happened in connection with the general elections to the Parliament held in April 2009. The accused are leaders and prominent members of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the injured is a prominent worker of the Indian National Congress (INC)and son-in-law of a former MP and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha. The Counsel also pointed out that the 2nd petitioner (appellant) is involved in several criminal cases and is facing trial in the case registered by the CBI.

"The offence committed by the petitioners/appellants was a shock to the Lakshadweep society which is well known for leading peaceful life with a smaller number of crimes reported. If the petitioners /appellants who are prominent leaders of a political party, found to be guilty of attempt to murder by the Court of Sessions are released at this stage, the same will result in shaking the faith of people in the judicial process," the Special Prosecutor submitted.

It was submitted that the prayer seeking suspension of the accused persons' conviction is improper since it is well settled that the power available to the appellate court under Section 389(1) CrPC to suspend the finding of conviction shall be exercised only under exceptional circumstances.

Special Prosecutor further submitted that the 2nd appellant, who has become disqualified on account of the conviction and whose criminal bent of mind is well evident from the involvement in many cases may secure re–entry to the Parliament in case his conviction is suspended as prayed for.

"Not suspending the conviction of the 2nd accused is drastic not only for the 2nd petitioner but also for the nation. A cumbersome process of election will have to be started and its exorbitant cost will have to be borne by the nation and indirectly by the people of this country" the Court said while passing the order.

The Court pointed out that as far as the 1st, 3rd and 4th Petitioners are concerned no specific reasons have been stated to suspend their conviction.

The Court observed that the first petitioner has been terminated from his service as a teacher consequent to his conviction and the termination is personal to him, and as held by this Court in Ajith Kumar v. Central Bureau of Investigation, a conviction cannot be suspended merely because the accused will lose his employment. Further, no reasons have also been stated in the application for suspending the conviction of those accused.

Therefore I find no reason to suspend the conviction of petitioners 1, 3 and 4. However, since they are sentenced to a limited period, their sentence is liable to be suspended pending disposal of the appeal, the Court observed.

Therefore the Court allowed the application in parts, as follows:

(i) The conviction and sentence of imprisonment imposed upon the second petitioner as second accused in S.C. No.1/2017 on the files of the Sessions Court, Kavarthi, Union Territory of Lakshadweep, shall stand suspended until disposal of the appeal on condition that the said petitioner deposits the amount of fine imposed upon him within two weeks from today.

(ii) The sentence of imprisonment of accused 1, 3 and 4, in S.C. No.1/2017 on the files of the Sessions Court, Kavarthi, Union Territory of Lakshadweep shall stand suspended until disposal of the appeal on condition that those accused deposit the amount of fine imposed upon them within two weeks from today.

(iii) The petitioners shall execute a bond for Rs.50,000/- with two solvent sureties each for the like sum to the satisfaction of the Sessions Court, Kavarthi.

Case Title: Sayed Mohammed Noorul Ameer and Ors. v. U.T. Administration of Lakshadweep

Citation: 2023 LiveLaw(Ker) 42

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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