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Kerala Muslim League MLA disqualified for “communal campaign”

IUML MLA Disqualified

Kochi: The Kerala High Court Friday declared as invalid the election of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MLA K M Shaji on a petition claiming that he indulged in a “communal campaign”, amounting to corrupt practices, to win the 2016 state elections.

Disqualifying Shaji, who had won from the Azhikode seat, Justice P D Rajan also barred him from contesting polls for six years.

The judgement came on the plea by LDF candidate M V Nikesh Kumar, who contested against Shaji. The court also directed Shaji to pay Rs 50,000 as costs to Kumar.

The court, however, declined Kumar’s plea that he be declared the winner of the polls.

The judge, however later stayed his order for two weeks on a plea by Shaji’s lawyer, seeking adequate time to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict, according to news agency PTI.

The stay was granted on condition that Shaji deposit Rs 50,000 within a week to facilitate him file an appeal before the apex court.

He accused Shaji of having violated the norms prescribed under various sections of the Representation of People’s Act to win the elections. He alleged that Shaji, who belongs to the Muslim community, had appealed to voters, his agents and other people to vote for the UDF candidate on grounds of religion.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a partner in the Congress led opposition United Democratic Front, (UDF) won 18 seats in the 140-member assembly in the 2016 elections. One IUML member passed away last year.

Interestingly, MLA Shaji was in news in 2016 for receiving threats from “Islamic fundamentalists”. He said he had reported 10 cases of threats that were made to him for the strongly progressive stand he had been taking against the spread of “Islamic fundamentalism” in Kerala.

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