Friday, Jun 02, 2023

Why Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal has challenged his disqualification in the Supreme Court

On January 13, the Lok Sabha Secretariat notified Faizal's disqualification under Section 8(3) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951. This is the same section under which Rahul Gandhi was disqualified in a defamation case.

Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal PPIt was alleged that in April 2009, Faizal, along with a group of people, attacked Congress leader Mohammed Salih during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when his son Muhammed Hamdulla Sayeed, a Congress candidate, emerged as the winner. (File)

The Supreme Court has listed for hearing on Tuesday (March 28) a petition filed by Lakshadweep MP P P Mohammed Faizal challenging the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s “unlawful action” in failing to withdraw its disqualification notice, more than two months after the Kerala High Court stayed the MP’s conviction and 10-year sentence in an attempt-to-murder case.

Timeline of case

According to Faizal, a “false case” was registered against him on January 5, 2016 at Androth island police station. While the trial was ongoing, he was elected to Lok Sabha in 2019.

On January 11, 2023, Faizal and three others were sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 1 lakh each by a sessions court in Kavaratti for attempting to murder Mohammed Salih, son-in-law of the late Union Minister P M Sayeed, during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

On January 13, the Lok Sabha Secretariat notified Faizal’s disqualification under Section 8(3) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, which provides for immediate disqualification of any “person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years”. This is the same section under which Rahul Gandhi was disqualified after a Surat magistrate’s court sentenced him to two years in jail for defamation.

On January 18, with Faizal’s appeal against the sessions court order still pending before the Kerala High Court, the Election Commission announced a by-election to fill the Lakshadweep seat.

On January 25, two days before the scheduled bypoll, the Kerala HC suspended the conviction and 10-year sentence given to Faizal. The EC subsequently announced that it had decided to “withhold” the byelection in Lakshadweep.

Case in apex court

On January 30, the Union Territory of Lakshadweep challenged the Kerala HC’s decision in the Supreme Court. On February 20, a Bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna refused to stay the HC order and, issuing notice on the UT’s plea, posted the matter for hearing on March 28.


In a fresh petition, Faizal has challenged the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s non-withdrawal of the January 13 disqualification notification.

The plea contends that the Secretariat’s inaction violates settled law under Section 8 of The Representation of People Act, 1951, under which the disqualification of an MP ceases to operate if their conviction is stayed by an appellate court under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In its ruling in Lok Prahari v Election Commission of India & Ors (2018), a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar (retd), and (now CJI) Justice D Y Chandrachud clarified that a disqualification triggered by a conviction will be reversed if the conviction is stayed by a court.

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“Once the conviction has been stayed during the pendency of an appeal, the disqualification which operates as a consequence of the conviction cannot take or remain in effect,” the ruling had said.

First published on: 27-03-2023 at 17:35 IST
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