SC dismisses petition challenging restoration of LS membership to Lakshadweep MP

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the restoration of Lok Sabha membership to Lakshadweep member of Parliament (MP) Mohammad Faizal and imposed a cost of ₹1 lakh on the petitioner, observing that such petitions bring disrepute to the judicial institution.

A bench headed by justice BR Gavai passed the order while hearing a petition filed by Lucknow-based lawyer Ashok Pandey who said that once disqualification is attracted by a member of legislature, the same will continue till the person gets acquitted of the charges levelled.

Dismissing the petition with costs, the bench, also comprising justices Aravind Kumar and PK Mishra said, “This petition is an abuse of the process of law. There is no fundamental right of the petitioner which is violated and there is no ground for this court to exercise its jurisdiction.”

The court imposed a cost of ₹1 lakh directing Pandey to deposit 50% of the cost with Supreme Court Bar Association and remaining into the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Welfare Fund.

Pandey told the court that he was a lawyer and had filed significant public interest litigations (PILs) in the past. On hearing this, the bench said, “If you are an advocate, you must think twice before filing such frivolous petitions.” The c ourt further directed that if the amount was not paid within four weeks, the same shall be recovered as arrears of land revenue by attaching his property.

Faizal was convicted by a local court in Lakshadweep in January this year and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in an attempt to murder case. The conviction was stayed by the Kerala high court on January 25 and the matter reached the top court which directed the HC in August to hear the matter afresh. On October 9, the top court revived the stay on conviction while staying the final order of the Kerala high court that denied him this relief on October 3.

Pandey has filed a similar petition challenging the restoration of LS membership to Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi. This petition is listed for hearing before the top court on October 30.

Pandey in his petition against Rahul Gandhi said, “Once a member of Parliament or a state legislature loses his office by operation of law in Article 102 or Article 191 read with section 8 of Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, he will continue to be disqualified till he is acquitted from the charges leveled against him.”

A local court in Gujarat’s Surat sentenced the Congress leader to two years imprisonment for his Modi surname remark made during the run up to the 2019 general elections. The Lok Sabha secretariat disqualified him on March 24, but his membership was restored after the Supreme Court stayed the order of conviction.

Last week, Pandey earned the wrath of the court for filing yet another frivolous petition as he questioned the oath taken by the Bombay high court chief justice DK Upadhyay for not mentioning the word “I” in his oath and termed the oath ceremony defective for not inviting the governors and administrators of Goa, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli which fall under the common judicial administration of the Bombay high court.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) took exception to Pandey’s petition asking for a fresh oath ceremony and dismissed it with a cost of ₹5 lakh by saying, “Such frivolous PILs divert the court’s attention from more pressing matters and consume valuable judicial resource.”