Nominations filed by solar scam accused Saritha S Nair to contest for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls were rejected by the Returning Officers (RO) on Saturday. Saritha had given nominations to contest from Wayanad and Ernakulam constituencies as an independent candidate.
The nominations were rejected on the ground that she has been convicted in criminal cases.
“Saritha was punished in two cases in connection with the solar scam for three years each amounting to six years in total. As per the rule, someone punished in a criminal case can only contest in elections after completing six years of punishment, but it has been only two years in her case," a source in the Election Commission office in Ernakulam told TNM.
Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act states, "A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”
District collector of Wayanad, AR Ajayakumar, who is also the RO of the district said that Saritha was ineligible to contest in the election as she had been punished in criminal cases for more than two years.
Saritha had defended the nomination saying the cases against her have been given a stay order by the court. But the RO said that stay by the court does not imply that the accused was not guilty.
Saritha was aiming to take on Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad and MLA Hibi Eden in Ernakulam.
Saritha had earlier said that she wanted to contest in the election to reveal the real face of some Congress candidates to the people. She had even openly come out against Congress MLA Hibi Eden, who is contesting as a UDF candidate from Ernakulam.
The candidature of Saritha in Lok Sabha polls could have potentially had a negative impact on the UDF, especially for its Ernakulam candidate Hibi Eden. But with nominations of Saritha being rejected in both the constituencies, the apprehensions, if any, of the Congress are now at bay.
Saritha was one of the main accused in the multi crore solar scam. She was one of the directors of company Team Solar Renewable Energy Solutions, which had cheated many investors in a solar power project. Oommen Chandy-led UDF government was in power when the scam broke out in 2013. It had jolted the then ruling government with Saritha making serious allegations against many Congress leaders.