THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The disqualification of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MLA K M Shaji by the High Court is not the first time a legislator is facing setback from the court. Earlier also a couple of MLAs and an MP had faced similar actions through court intervention. However in the case of P C George, the High Court nullified an order by the Assembly Speaker disqualifying him.
A Kerala legislator’s first tryst with court over electoral disqualification came in 1957, in the form of Rosamma Punnoose --- Communist candidate from Devikulam - whose election was nullified by the court. She’s reportedly the first leader in the country to face such a court action. Sister of Akkamma Cheriyan, she was the first pro-tem Speaker in the Kerala Assembly. In a historic development, Rosamma Punnose became the first to win a by-election in the state and return to the Assembly. Curiously, today’s Communist patriarch V S Achuthanandan was her election agent for bypoll.
In 1977, the High Court had nullified the elections of C H Mohammed Koya and K M Mani - members of the first A K Antony Government. The verdict came after allegations of communal campaign. However, both of them got favourable verdicts from the Supreme Court. In 1987, the High Court nullified the election of an IUML leader. But he got favourable verdict from the Supreme Court.
The case of P C Thomas, the lone winner for NDA from the state in Lok Sabha polls in 2004, was different. Left candidate P S Ismayil approached the court after Thomas was declared winner with a thin majority of around 500 votes. Thomas faced a setback after the High Court and later the Supreme Court nullified his election for exploiting the voters’ religious sentiments. Following Election Commission’s recommendation, he was disqualified from contesting for three years.
The disqualification of P C George, then a member of Kerala Congress (M), was one of the most discussed disqualifications in Kerala’s recent political history. On November 13, 2015, then Speaker N Sakthan disqualified George with retrospective effect from June 3, on the basis of a petition by the Chief Whip alleging that he had indulged in anti-party activities.
Curiously, George was disqualified under the anti-defection law after he tendered his resignation. However the High Court on March 14, 2016, quashed the Speaker’s order observing that it was a mala fide action. The court also observed that the Speaker can reconsider George’s resignation letter after hearing him.