BHUBANESWAR: In a huge relief for Congress MLA from Sundargarh Jogesh Singh, the Supreme Court today issued an interim stay on invalidation of his election by Orissa High Court.
With the Supreme Court order, Singh will continue to be a member of the state assembly. The strength of the Congress has also been restored to 15 in the assembly. Counsel of Singh, Pitambar Acharya,
however, said though his election was not set aside on caste issue, people were confused due to misleading information.
Stating that the caste angle was set aside by the High Court, Acharya said quoting from the judgement, “even though his present traits do not match with peculiar anthropological and ethnological
characteristics of Bhuyan tribe, in the light of the discussions and analysis made, it has to be held that respondent no.1 (Singh) is a scheduled tribe of 'Bhuyan' community. The issuance of several caste certificates by competent authorities under relevant state rules and legislations describing Singh as a ST belonging to Bhuyan community cannot be faulted. It is therefore held that Singh is a Bhuyan ST.”
Acharya said the High Court declared Singh's membership in the assembly null and void for suppression of material information in the affidavit filed in form-26 along with his nomination papers. He said the petitioners challenging Singh's election did not have any evidence in this regard.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal along with Acharya argued before the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Ashok Bhusan for Singh.
The High Court order came after it adjudicated two election disputes filed by defeated BJP candidate Sahadev Xaxa and Ajay Patel, who had alleged that Singh, despite not being a scheduled tribe (ST),
had managed to obtain an ST certificate and contested the election. It was also alleged that Singh had concealed details of some material information required to be furnished in the affidavit filed in form-26 accompanying his nomination papers. Singh, who secured 66,138 votes, defeated his nearest rival Kusum Tete of the ruling BJD with a margin of 12,584 votes.