The Kerala HC on Friday set aside the election of IUML leader KM Shaji as MLA of Azhikode. The verdict was given following the petition by journalist and CPI(M) candidate MV Nikesh Kumar who had contested and lost from the Azhikode seat in May, 2016. In his petition Nikesh Kumar alleged that Shaji had made communal remarks during the run up to the polls in 2016.
Apart from setting aside the election, the court also asked the MLA to compensate Nikesh Kumar with Rs 50,000, Justice PD Rajan has also directed the Speaker of the Assembly and State Election Commission to take necessary action following the verdict. However, Nikesh Kumarâ€™s demand to be be declared the winner in the Azhikode constituency has been rejected by the court which has directed for re-elections to be held. Nikesh had alleged that Shaji had distributed pamphlets asking Muslim voters not to vote for non-Muslim candidates.
Following the verdict, KM Shaji will also not be allowed to contest elections for the next 6 years. He has also been stripped off of all benefits that comes with the MLA position following the court verdict.
The disqualified MLA also announced that he would be countering this verdict at the Supreme Court.
Journalist MV Nikesh Kumar, who had contested as an independent candidate backed by the now ruling Left Democratic Front, had lost from the Azhikode constituency. He had contested the very seat his father and CMP leader MV Raghavan had won when the CPI(M) party had expelled him in 1986. He lost the seat by a margin of around 2000 votes to KM Shaji of the UDF.