Societal interest & purity in politics have to be balanced, Kerala HC suspends conviction of Congress Leader Mohd Faizal in attempt to murder case

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While suspending the conviction and sentence, the court emphasized that 'purity in politics is necessary,' and thus it must be infused into democracy. "Political decriminalization is an essential requirement of every democracy," the court stated.

The Kerala High Court has recently suspended the conviction and 10 years sentence of Ex- Lakshadweep MP and Congress Leader Mohammed Faizal and three others in an attempt to murder case.

The court was hearing a plea by Faizal and three others namely, Sayed Mohammed Noorul Ameer, Mohammed Hussain Thangal, and Mohammed Basheer Thangal seeking suspension of conviction and sentence ordered by the Trial Court.

A bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas noted that there would be “severe consequences” if Faizal’s conviction is not suspended and observed, “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 single-judge bench stated the magnitude of administrative tasks required to conduct an election will inevitably cause various developmental activities in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep to halt for at least a few weeks. “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”, the court added.

The court emphasized that 'purity in politics is necessary', consequently, in democracy, it is required to be infused. “The decriminalization of politics is an essential requirement of every democracy”, the court said.

The court stated that it is the bounden duty of a constitutional court to advance constitutional objectives, including political purity. However, those lofty principles cannot be used to justify denying the application of rule of law principles. It added that the societal interest and the requirement for purity in politics and elections must be balanced and the fact that the appeal is a statutory right and finality is attached only to the appellate court's judgment under section 393 CrPC assumes significance. 

Considering the legal and other circumstances, the court opined that, “the case of the second petitioner falls within the category of rare and exceptional circumstances. The ramifications of not suspending the conviction are enormous. Hence this Court is of the view that the conviction and sentence of imprisonment imposed upon the second accused in SC 1/2017 on the files of the Sessions Court, Kavarthi, Union Territory of Lakshadweep should be suspended until disposal of the appeal”.

Accordingly, while suspending the sentence imposed by the trial court, the single-judge bench directed Faizal to execute a bond of Rs. 50,000 with two solvent sureties each of like amount.

It is to be noted that on January 11, a Kavaratti Sessions Court sentenced all four of them to 10 years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs. 1 Lakh, for attempting to kill Mohammed Salih, son-in-law of Late Congress Leader and Former Union Minister P M Sayeed, during the 2009 Lok Sabha Polls. Subsequently, after the conviction, Faizal, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was disqualified from the Lok Sabha. 

Case Title: Mohammed Faizal & Ors. v. UT Administration of Lakshadweep & Anr.