The Supreme Court has adjourned to tomorrow the disqualified Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal's plea against the Lok Sabha Secretariat for not withdrawing a notification disqualifying him as a Member of Parliament upon the stay of his conviction.

The Court while adjourning the writ petition asked as to what fundamental right of his was violated when the Lok Sabha Secretariat did not withdraw a notification disqualifying him as a Member of Parliament upon his conviction and 10-year sentence, which was later stayed by the Kerala High Court.

What is the fundamental right that is violated,” asked a Bench comprising Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna.

Right to represent the constituency,” responded the counsel appearing for Faizal.

“Is that a fundamental right?,” asked the Court further.

In response, it was submitted that Article 14 of the Constitution is offended when a constituency remains unrepresented. “The action is entirely arbitrary,” added the counsel representing Lakshadweep MP.

“There have been multiple representations to the Lok Sabha. The Speaker has not withdrawn the disqualification, so he (Faizal) has not been able to sit for the entire budget session,” said the Counsel.

The Court has posted the matter for further hearing tomorrow and it will also hear the plea moved by the Union Territory (UT) of Lakshadweep challenging the January 25 order of the High Court which had suspended conviction and sentence of Faizal till the disposal of the appeal before it.

Faizal stood disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from January 11, the date of his conviction in an attempt to murder case by a Sessions Court in Kavaratti, according to a notification issued on January 13 by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

In his petition, it is claimed that the inaction of the L S Secretariat is in the "teeth of the settled law" that disqualification incurred by a Member of Parliament (MP) under section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, ceases to operate if the conviction is stayed by the appellate court under section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

It is further said that the Lok Sabha Secretariat has not revoked the disqualification notification despite various representations and Faizal was denied participation in the Budget Session of the Parliament as well as the ongoing session.

On January 11, the Sessions Court, Kavarthi, Union Territory of Lakshadweep found Mohammed Faizal guilty of the offences under Sections 143, 147, 148, 448, 427, 324, 342, 307 and 506 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced them to imprisonment for various terms for the different offences, including 10 years imprisonment for the offence under Section 307 IPC.

The Kerala High Court suspended the conviction after it was submitted before the Court that if his conviction is not suspended, the consequence will be his disqualification as a Member of Parliament, and therefore, his conviction and sentence imposed may be suspended pending disposal of the appeal.

In January, the Union Territory (UT) of Lakshadweep moved the Apex Court challenging the January 25 order of the high court which had suspended his conviction and sentence till the disposal of the appeal before it.

On February 20, the Apex Court issued notice to Faizal and others on the plea filed by Lakshadweep and refused to pass any interim directions staying the order of the Kerala High Court.

In an earlier round of litigation, the Supreme Court disposed of the plea of Faizal who had then challenged the press release issued by the Election Commission of India which proposed the date of the bye-election as February 27, 2023 in the UT.

“[W]e dispose of the petition recording the submission that action shall be taken by Election Commission in accordance with law, in light of the stay of conviction ordered by the Kerala High Court." ordered the Supreme Court.

Cause Title- Mohammed Faizal P.P. v. Secretary General