The Kerala High Court on Friday disqualified Indian Union Muslim League legislator KM Shaji for six years. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MV Nikesh Kumar, who had contested the 2016 Assembly election against Shaji, had accused him of stirring communal sentiments during the poll campaign.
The High Court also asked the Election Commission to conduct fresh polls in Shaji’s Azhikode constituency in Kannur district and asked the Speaker to take appropriate action. The court said Shaji had violated the election code of conduct, but declined Kumar’s request to be declared the winner from the constituency, reported Mathrubhumi. It also directed Shaji to pay Rs 50,000 as court expenses to Kumar.
Nikesh alleged that Shaji and his supporters appealed to voters to elect him on the grounds of his religion. He also alleged that pamphlets were circulated in the constituency urging people not to vote for a candidate who is not a believer of the Islamic faith, PTI reported.
Shaji said he will move the Kerala High Court seeking a stay his disqualification. “Will discuss with legal experts before moving Supreme Court,” he said. “I always stood for secular values. I must admit that I am ashamed to get such a verdict.”
The Indian Union Muslim League, which is a part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, said it will decide on filing an appeal after reading the entire judgement.