SC stays Orissa HC order nullifying Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim election in 2019

New Delhi, Mar 18 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Orissa High Court order in which it had nullified the election of Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim from Barabati Constituency in Cuttack and issued notices to the state government.

A bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice K. V. Viswanathan while issuing notices to the authorities, directed that Moquim would not be entitled to vote, however, he shall be permitted to participate in the assembly proceedings.

Mohammed Moquim contested the Odisha Assembly Election 2019 as the official candidate of the Congress Party from Barabati-Cuttack constituency. He secured 50244 votes, whereas Debashish Samantaray, the candidate fielded by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), was able to gather 46417 votes. Accordingly, Moquim was declared the winner.

After the declaration of the election results, Samantaray challenged the election of Moquim on three grounds. The first ground was that (i) nomination papers were not properly filed by Moquim; (ii) he suppressed material information about 13 criminal cases pending against him; and (iii) he did not furnish proper and full details of property held by himself as well as his spouse Firdousia Bano.

The High Court after hearing both the parties had framed 36 issues for determination in the election trial. The Single Bench of Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo observed that the Congress MLA had not made a proper and full declaration about the thirteen criminal cases pending against him. Further, on account of the defects, as pointed out by Samantaray, it was held that the election results concerning Moquim “has been materially affected,” and it cannot be said that he was “duly elected.”

In the Supreme Court today, (March 18), Senior Advocate Dr.S Muralidhar, who appeared for Moquim, apprised that the Orissa High Court judgment was with very high technicality and “unusually long.”

The Apex Court Bench agreed with Dr Muralidhar and said the same thing. Justice Kant while staying the Orissa High Court judgement said, “It was difficult to dig out facts or anything from the judgement.”

‘The Orissa High Court on March 4 nullified the election of Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim from Barabati Constituency in Cuttack, saying that the election of the Respondent as M.L.A. from the 90-Barabati Cuttack Assembly Constituency held in April 2019 is void and the same is hereby set aside.

Resultantly, a casual vacancy to the said constituency has occurred.”

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