Kochi: K.M. Shaji, an MLA from the Congress-led UDF’s IUML, was disqualified on Friday by the Kerala High Court for making communal overtures in his election campaign but got a two-week stay on the verdict from the same court later.
Justice P.D. Rajan declared Shaji ineligible to contest an election for six years. But when the politician filed a fresh petition to stay the verdict for a month as he needed time to approach the Supreme Court, the court granted him two weeks stay.
Justice Rajan delivered the earlier verdict on a petition filed by journalist-turned-CPI-M candidate M.V. Nikesh Kumar, who finished second in the election. He also heard the new petition and stayed the verdict.
While Kumar’s counsel argued that Shaji should not get the benefits of a legislator as he had been disqualified, the court posted the case for further hearing for Tuesday.
Shaji retained the Azhikode constituency in Kannur district in a bitterly fought battle by a margin of 2,462 votes. The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is the second biggest constituent in the UDF.
The court had earlier asked Shaji to pay Rs 50,000 as cost to the petitioner but did not declare Kumar the winner from Azhikode. It instead sought for a fresh election.
Even as the court stayed the verdict for two weeks, it asked Shaji to deposit the money in the court within a week.
Shaji told the media that his disqualification was a big blot to his secular credentials.
“I am deeply pained that the court has termed me communal, which I never am. I was one who boldly told on the eve of polling day that I do not want a single vote from communal parties. Once I reach Kochi, I will decide the legal steps I will be taking,” he said.
Kumar said he saw the verdict as a political victory.