New Delhi: The Supreme Court declined to set aside the election of United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate N.K. Premachandran from Kollam parliamentary constituency in Kerala for allegedly making statements against the entry of women of all age groups in Sabarimala temple.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy refused to entertain an appeal filed by CPI-M candidate K.N. Balagopal, who lost to Premachandran by close to 1.5 lakh votes in the last general election.
The bench said it does not see how such a comment could lead to disqualification. Besides, there is no sufficient material, which could lead to disqualification, added the bench.
According to P.V. Dinesh, who represented Balagopal, the bench dismissed the petition through a one-line order. Balagopal, in the election petition, had cited statements made by Premachandran against LDF and the CPI-M, where he allegedly said the leaders of these political parties do not hold any faith in Lord Ayyappa, and if elected, they would allow entry for women of all age groups in the Sabarimala temple. This would offend the faith of the believers, said Premachandran.
In January, the Kerala High Court upheld the election of Premachandran from the Kollam Lok Sabha constituency. Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar rejected the petition filed by Balagopal challenging the election of Premachandran.
Balagopal had told the High Court that Premachandran had delivered a speech and distributed pamphlets in connection with the Sabarimala issue, allegedly as an attempt to woo the voters. The High Court had observed that the election petition did not make out a cause of action.
Balagopal’s lawyer contended before the top court that Premachandran’s speech was an appeal to the voters to get him elected to stop all age-group women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple. The lawyer before the top court claimed that the nature of such statements qualifies as corrupt practices under the relevant provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Therefore, it is appropriate to set aside his election.