The Kerala High Court on Thursday nullified the election of Karatt Razak from Koduvally Assembly constituency in Kozhikode district after finding him guilty of electoral malpractice. The court has put a temporary stay on the verdict for 30 days to allow Razak time to approach the Supreme Court.
Razak, who contested as an Independent backed by the CPI(M), had trumped MA Razak Master, a candidate of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), by just 573 votes in Koduvally in the 2016 Assembly elections. The victory of the Left-backed candidate had sent shock-waves through the IUML leadership as Koduvally was considered a safe seat of the party. Read in Malayalam
On Thursday, in response to a petition filed by two voters of the constituency – KP Mohammed and Moitheen Kunji, the single-judge bench of Justice Abraham Mathew passed the order to nullify the election verdict.
The petitioners had alleged that Razak and his campaign team tarnished the image of his Opposition candidate in a video which was screened throughout the constituency during the election.
The HC order, certainly a setback for Razak, is however seen as sweet revenge for the IUML because in November last year, it’s MLA from Azhikode KM Shaji was disqualified by the HC for six years for making communally-charged remarks during his 2016 campaign.
His opponent then, MV Nikesh Kumar, a popular Malayalam anchor who fought as an Independent backed by the CPI(M), alleged in his petition that Shaji appealed to Muslim voters to elect him on grounds of his religion. Shaji had then said he would approach the Supreme Court to appeal against the verdict.
In several constituencies in Malabar region in northern Kerala, the CPI-M and its allies fight close battles with the IUML, a part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
If appeals by Razak and Shaji are rejected by the top court, Kerala would have to prepare for three crucial bye-elections, all of them in Malabar. Apart from Azhikode and Koduvally, Manjeswaram in Kasaragod district has fallen vacant after the death of sitting IUML legislator PB Abdul Razak.