KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Friday set aside the election of Indian Union Muslim Leauge (IUML) leader KM Shaji as MLA from Azhikode seat in the May 2016 Assembly polls for allegedly making derogatory and communal remarks during his campaign. The verdict also disqualifies him from contesting elections for the next six years. He has also been stripped of all benefits, which he was entitled for as an MLA.
The bench of Justice PD Ranjan while hearing the petition filed by CPM candidate MV Nikesh Kumar also slapped a fine of Rs 50000 on Shaji. The Court has also directed the Speaker of the Assembly and the State Election Commission to take necessary action following the verdict. Kumar in his petition had alleged that Shaji through pamphlets had urged the people not to vote for "non-Muslim" candidates.
After the announcement of the verdict, Shaji, while speaking to ANI, said, "I have proved my secular credentials with my life. How did the court come to such a conclusion is still unknown to me. The petitioner is a highly manipulative person, who is an accused in many cases of forgery. This was expected from him. He could have resorted to better ways to counter me."
He added, "I am not that foolish to release posters, asking people not to vote for non-Muslim candidates. The officer-in-charge of the election was one who was included in the corruption case."
It is worth mentioning that MV Nikesh Kumar had lost to KM Shaji from Azhikode seat in the Assembly polls held in May 2016.