Even though the stay of Faizal’s conviction was continuing for the last two months, the Lok Sabha secretariat had not restored his membership till now.
TWO months after the Kerala High Court granted a stay of his conviction, the Lok Sabha secretariat on Wednesday issued a notification restoring the Lok Sabha membership of disqualified Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal.
This came hours before the Supreme Court was to hear his petition challenging the inaction of the Lok Sabha secretariat in not restoring his membership to the House.
JUST IN: Lok Sabha membership of Lakshwadeep MP Mohammad Faizal restored by Lok Sabha Secretariat. This comes hours before the SC is scheduled to examine his plea alleging that the Lok Sabha secretariat did not restore his membership despite a stay of conviction by the HC. pic.twitter.com/7vTYDsMgMw
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) March 29, 2023
On January 11, Faizal was convicted with three others by a sessions court in an attempt to murder case and was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. On January 13 this year, the Lok Sabha secretariat issued a notification disqualifying him from membership of the Lok Sabha. The Election Commission of India also issued a press note on January 18 with regard to the by-election to be conducted on his seat.
However, on January 25, the Kerala High Court granted a stay of conviction of Faizal. It observed that the consequence of not suspending the conviction was drastic not only for Faizal but even for the nation.
“With the fear of repetition it is observed that the cumbersome process of elections will have to be started, and the exorbitant cost of a Parliamentary election will have to be borne by the nation and indirectly by the people of this Country. The enormity of administrative exercises required for the conduct of an election will inevitably lead to various developmental activities in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep coming to a halt for a few weeks at least. Despite all these exercises and financial burdens, the maximum period for which the elected candidate can function will be only a period less than fifteen months,” a single judge of the Kerala High Court had noted.
Following this, the Election Commission withdrew its press note regarding the holding of by-polls to the seat held by Faizal.
Meanwhile, aggrieved by the decision of the Kerala High Court, the Union territory of Lakshadweep approached the Supreme Court, which on February 20 issued notice to Faizal but refused to stay the high court order.
Even though the stay of Faizal’s conviction was continuing, the Lok Sabha secretariat had not restored his membership. This led to Faizal filing a petition at the Supreme Court against the Lok Sabha secretariat under Article 32 of the Constitution. He relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Lok Prahari versus Union of India (2017) which held that “the disqualification, which operates as a consequence of conviction, couldn’t take or remain in effect once the conviction is stayed”.
When the matter came up for hearing today before a bench presided over by Justice K.M. Joseph and also comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for Faizal, informed the court that the Lok Sabha secretariat has now restored the membership of Faizal. The bench took the notification on record and disposed of the petition accordingly while leaving the question of maintainability of the Article 32 petition open.