The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Kerala High Court order setting aside the election of former Union Minister PC Thomas from Muvattupuzha Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala.
A three-judge Bench headed by CJI YK Sabharwal permitted him to participate in the Lok Sabha proceedings but said he could not cast votes in the House and draw emoluments.
The Bench passed the interim order while admitting the appeal filed by Thomas, a former Minister of State for Law and Justice in the Vajpayee Government, against the High Court verdict.
The High Court had declared his election as void for allegedly using photographs of the Pope during the May 2004 polls and exhorting voters to support him on religious basis. It had also declared his nearest rival PM Ismail as elected from the seat.
Muvattupuzha is a Christian-dominated Lok Sabha Constituency and it was alleged that local clergy too had asked voters to support Thomas as he was a Christian.
Appearing for Thomas, senior counsel SF Nariman contended that he was not a party to the distribution of pamphlets bearing his photograph with Pope John Paul.
He submitted that the direction of the High Court to declare defeated CPI-M candidate Ismail as elected was unprecedented and unheard of unless and until there were only two candidates in the fray.
On behalf of Ismail, senior counsel KK Venugopal defended the High Court order, saying Thomas’ election was set aside after properly examining the witnesses and material placed before it.
"Give us one example during the last over 50 years where in an election petition, a defeated candidate has been declared elected by the court," the Bench asked while staying the High Court order.
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