The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Madras High Court proceedings on a petition challenging the election of DMK leader Kanimozhi from Thoothukudi constituency in Tamil Nadu. A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant took note of the submissions of the DMK leader's lawyer and stayed the ongoing proceedings before the Madras High Court. The matter is set to come up in the apex court in four weeks.
Kanimozhi contested from the Thoothukudi constituency in 2019 and her election was challenged by a voter, A Santhana Kumar, on the grounds that she failed to mention her husband's Permanent Account Number (PAN) in her election affidavit disclosing family assets.
Soon after her loss against the DMK MP with a 3.47-lakh vote margin, the former Tamil Nadu BJP chief and current Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundarajan alleged discrepancies in Kanimozhi’s nomination papers as well. The BJP leader alleged that the four nomination papers she had filed in support of her application were inconsistent with each other – they had reportedly mentioned different Assembly constituencies where Kanimozhi had registered as a voter. The BJP had flayed the Returning Officer for not having rejected the nomination papers. Tamilisai approached the Madras High Court but later withdrew the case after her appointment as Telangana Governor.
Meanwhile, the DMK has said that the petitioner, a resident of Thoothukudi, had not disclosed his membership of the BJP. Rejecting the MP's objections, the court held that a member of a political party was free to file an election petition before the court.
Kanimozhi had reportedly stated in her reply that her husband was not in possession of a PAN card as he remains an NRI based out of Singapore.
In November last year, the Madras High Court dismissed a request by Kanimozhi to reject petitioner Santhana Kumar’s plea challenging her win.
Speaking to TNM, senior counsel and DMK Rajya Sabha MP P Wilson said, “The election case is frivolous. A BJP voter has raised the challenge. His ground is that the DMK MP’s husband’s PAN number is not declared. He is working abroad, which she herself has stated in her papers. Only a person whose income is assessed in India can have a PAN. So we have said in the nomination form that it is not applicable to her case. Secondly, with regard to where she is contesting, she has rightly filled in her nomination form as Thoothukudi.”
“Election petitions can be tried strictly in accordance with the statutory provisions and not based on common law . Thus, these two allegations which don't fit into any of statutes, are untenable and politically motivated,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)