MP fights losing battle courtesy Pope

PC Thomas, who marginally won polls in May 2004, had used a picture of himself with the Pope in a pamphlet.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2006 16:51 IST
New Delhi
New Delhi

A parliamentarian from Kerala, whose election was nullified over the use of an image of the last pope, breaking rules separating religion and politics, has appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Kerala High Court on October 31 cancelled the election of PC Thomas and asked him to step down in favour of the candidate who polled the second largest number of votes in the May, 2004 parliamentary ballot.

Thomas, a former union deputy minister, who fought the election under the banner of a small party he had founded, had narrowly defeated PM Ismail of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and has sat in the Parliament ever since.

But Ismail challenged the result on the ground that his opponent had handed out pamphlets containing a photograph of Thomas with Pope John Paul II, violating electoral laws which bar candidates from using religion to win votes.

The court agreed, saying it amounted to corrupt practice.

Section 123 (3) of India's electoral law bars candidates from appealing to voters on the ground of "religion, race, caste, community or language".

It also prohibits the use of religious symbols in polls.

In his appeal to the Supreme Court in New Delhi, lodged on Saturday, Thomas said there was no evidence to show the offending literature was issued with his consent.

First Published: Nov 19, 2006 16:51 IST