Supreme Court issues notice to Kerala State Election Commission on plea by former Congress member against 6-year ban

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala remarked that it was inclined to reduce the 6-year ban from contesting in elections but won't interfere with the disqualification.
Justice Surya Kant and Justice JB Pardiwala
Justice Surya Kant and Justice JB Pardiwala

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the response of the Kerala State Election Commission in a plea filed by a former member of the Congress party challenging her disqualification from the party and as gram panchayat president [Tissy MK @Tissy Binu v State Ellection Commission, Kerala & Anr].

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala issued notice in the matter, and remarked that it was inclined to reduce the 6-year ban placed on the petitioner from contesting in polls.

However, it declined to interfere with the disqualification from the party and prevented her from filing further nominations towards electoral seats as she had defied the party whip.

"We're only on ban period. We'll only reduce the ban period, that we're inclined to reduce it to 1-2 years," the bench remarked orally.

The petitioner, Tissy MK, has approached the Supreme Court, challenging the decision of the Kerala High Court that upheld her disqualification from the Congress party and the Rajakumari gram panchayat.

The disqualification was imposed allegedly on account of the fact that the petitioner had stood for, and won the post of gram panchayat president, even when the Congress party had backed someone else for the post.

In 2022, the petitioner was barred by the Kerala State Election Commission from contesting any poll for the next six years after it observed that she had 'constructive knowledge' of the whip.

The plea stated that the disqualification under Section 3 1(a) of the Kerala Local Authorities (Prevention of Defection) Act should not have been proceeded with and upheld by the Kerala High Court since no official whip was issued or served by the party to her.

The Congress had maintained that the petitioner, by virtue of her actions, had voluntarily given up membership of the party.

The Kerala High Court, through orders passed by a single-judge and later, a division bench, upheld the disqualification and six-year ban prompting the petitioner to move the top court.

She contended that the High Court had not considered the validity of the alleged whip issued by the Congress.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the 6-year ban period is highly disproportionate as punishment.

Moreover, only if the petitioner had stood in opposition to a Congress candidate could she have been disqualified from party membership, it was argued.

Therefore, an ex-parte ad-interim stay was sought on all the orders by the poll body and High Court in the matter so far.

Senior Advocate V Chitambaresh appeared for the petitioner. The petition was filed by advocate PS Sudheer.

[Read Order]

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