Another plea was filed in the Kerala High Court on Wednesday seeking a declaration that CPI(M) legislator and former state Minister Saji Cheriyan is not entitled to hold the office of MLA in view of his speech allegedly insulting the Indian Constitution.

The first petition on the issue was moved to the high court on Monday.

On Wednesday, the high court briefly heard the latest plea, which claimed that Cheriyan's actions attract disqualification under section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Section 9 of the Act states that "a person who having held an office under the government of India or under the government of any state has been dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty to the state shall be disqualified for a period of five years from the date of such dismissal."

The high court, prima facie, was not convinced that this provision would apply in the instant case, advocate Deepu Lal Mohan, appearing for the Election Commission, said.

The court asked the petitioner whether MLA is an office under the state government to attract the said provision and thereafter, asked the Advocate General to file a statement on this aspect before the next date of hearing in August, advocate Mohan said.

The earlier petition has claimed that Cheriyan's conduct is a violation of Articles 173(a) and 188 of the Constitution and a case has also been registered against him under the Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 in connection with his controversial speech.

The speech had created a political row in the state with the proceedings of the state assembly being suspended for a day due to protests by the opposition demanding that Cheriyan resign or be sacked and finally resulted in his resignation from his cabinet posts on July 6.

When the earlier plea was heard by the high court on Tuesday, the state had contended that even if there is a breach of oath by a minister, that would not call for disqualification as an MLA and the relief sought in the instant writ petition cannot be granted.

The high court, during yesterday's proceedings, was of the view that Article 173 of the Constitution deals with qualification for being an MLA and was not applicable in the instant matter.

It, however, had said that whether Cheriyan's speech would attract disqualification under Article 188 -- which speaks about oath or affirmation by members of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council of a State -- "has to be gone into".

With PTI Inputs