The Kerala High Court on Wednesday suspended the conviction and 10-year sentence of former Lakshadweep MP Muhammad Faizal in an attempt-to-murder case, paving the way for his re-entry into Parliament.
On January 11, the Kawarati District Sessions Court convicted Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Faisal, along with his brother and three others, of assaulting a Congress worker with intent to kill before the violence in the island. gave 2009 Lok Sabha Elections.
On Wednesday, a single bench of Justice Bechu Corin Thomas extended relief to the four convicted in the 2009 case.
Justice Thomas, in his order, said, “The effect of suspension of sentence is enormous and this Court is of the view that the sentence and imprisonment imposed on the accused should be suspended pending disposal of the appeal.” ,” Justice Thomas noted in his ruling.
Three days after his conviction, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued a notification disqualifying Faisal from Parliament. On 18 January, the Election Commission of India announced a by-election in the archipelago on 27 February.
According to the prosecution, Faizal and 32 others formed an illegal group and seriously injured Congress activist Muhammad Saleh, son-in-law of former legislator PM Saeed, with the intention of killing him.
The Lakshadweep administration opposed suspending the convicts’ sentences, saying that granting them relief would “shake public confidence in the judicial process”. Arguing that the crime committed by Faisal and others, including his government school teacher brother, had shocked the island, the Union Territory administration said their release would send a “wrong message” to the society.
Deputy Solicitor General of India (DSGI) Manu S represented the UT administration in the court.
However, Fazil’s counsel P Vijay Bhanu argued that the trial court’s decision and subsequent conviction were against the law, facts and evidence. Vijaya Bhanu said the minimal evidence presented in the court was “prejudicial in nature” without scientific validation. He further said that the weapon used in the violence was not recovered and the treating doctor had clearly stated that the injuries sustained in the so-called attack were not life-threatening.
After hearing both sides, the High Court concluded: “Not suspending the sentence of the second accused (MP) is harsh not only on the petitioner but also on the nation. A cumbersome process of election will have to be initiated.” And the heavy cost of this will have to be borne by the nation and the people of the country indirectly.
However, legal experts have questioned the concluding observation of the court’s order.
“While the High Court’s order of suspension of sentence is within its powers, I feel that “social interest lies in averting costly elections” should have been avoided during the hearing of the criminal appeal, in which the criminal law and Its principles should only have been considered,” said MR Abhilash, senior advocate of the Supreme Court.
The haste with which the by-election was announced days after the NCP leader’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha has sparked a political controversy.
“It is clear that there was undue haste in his case and it seems unusual,” said MV Govindan, secretary of the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Faizal and three other convicts lodged in Kannur Central Jail will be released soon, jail officials said.
Two years ago, the peninsula saw a series of upheavals against a new set of regulations brought in by Union Territory Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, which residents claimed would destroy the island’s unique culture and tradition.
He was at the forefront of the protests against NCP leader Faizal Patel.