– Anwarulhaq Baig
New Delhi; 6 October 2023: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP from Lakshadweep, PP Mohammed Faizal, who was disqualified by the Lok Sabha, has moved the Supreme Court, challenging his conviction in a 14-year-old attempt to murder case.
The Kerala High Court Tuesday turned down the plea of lone parliamentarian representing Union Territory of Lakshadweep since 2014, to suspend his conviction which was given by a trial court in January this year. However, a single judge bench of Justice N. Nagaresh of the Kerala High Court, suspended his 10 years sentence. Shortly after this, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued a notification saying, “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.”
Earlier this year in January 11, Faizal was first disqualified after a sessions court in Lakshadweep had sentenced Faizal and three others to 10 years in prison for attempting to murder then Congress leader Mohammed Salih, son-in-law of late Union Minister PM Sayeed. It was an incident of 2009 when Salih was brutally assaulted by a group of people in a scuffle during the Lok Sabha election campaign. Notably, the two of the convicts were Faizal’s siblings.
Later, on January 25, the Kerala High Court had suspended the conviction, leading to the revocation of his disqualification. But subsequently, the Lakshadweep administration had challenged the High Court’s ruling in the Supreme Court. On August 22, the apex court had dismissed the High Court’s decision to suspend his conviction, describing it as ‘erroneous.’ However, the top court had reinstated Faizal to his position as a lawmaker for a period of three weeks and remanded the matter to the High Court for a fresh adjudication.
In his plea filed in the Supreme Court Thursday, Faizal asserted that the 2009 incident was unmistakably a “political dispute in which the petitioner is affiliated with the NCP, while the four eyewitnesses, including the complainant, are members of the Congress.”
In his request for interim relief and seeking suspension of his conviction during the pendency of the petition, he claimed that there were no independent witnesses in this case, even though the alleged incident occurred in the open during the evening.
In his petition, he said, “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.”
Citing Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which imposes a wide-ranging and drastic period of disqualification, commencing from the date of conviction and lasting for six years after the release, Faizal said, “The petitioner will stay disqualified even for the period during which the appeal remains pending. The consequences on the petitioner are irreversible and drastic.”
According to his plea, the High Court had failed to appreciate that the electorate of Lakshadweep would also suffer grave prejudice and hardship if Faizal’s conviction is not suspended.
The petition which was filed by Advocate K.R. Sasiprabhu, is expected to be scheduled for a hearing on October 9.