Kochi: The Kerala High court on Monday disqualified five-time MP Kodukunnil Suresh from Mavelikara (Reserved) constituency declaring his election void, holding that he was not entitled to claim the benefits and privileges available to the members of the Scheduled Caste.
Allowing the election petition of defeated candidate A S Anil Kumar (CPI) and two others, Justice M Shasdhidharan Nambiar found that Suresh was not a member of `Cheramar` community and thereby he was not a Scheduled Caste.
Justice Nambiar held that he is `disqualified` to contest from Mavelikara constituency as it is reserved for Schedule Castes.
The court found that Suresh had produced contradictory caste certificates issuing by Tahsildars of Kottarakara and Nedumangad.
In the 194-page judgement, the court criticised the action of the Returning officer and observed that he should not have accepted the nomination without a finding that Suresh is a member of Scheduled Caste.
Holding that acceptance of Suresh`s nomination was `improper`, Justice Nambiar directed the Registry to communicate the decision to Election Commission and Speaker of Lok sabha immediately.
Suresh, who first entered the Lok Sabha in 1989 from Adoor and subsequently thrice from the same constituency in 1991, 1996 and 1998, was declared elected from Mavelikkara with a majority of 48,046 votes in 2009 elections.
Adoor ceased to be a Lok Sabha constituency after the delimitation. On his part, Suresh, an AICC Secretary, told reporters he would appeal against the High Court order in the Supreme Court.
He blamed some sections within his party and opposition parties for filing the case behind which he saw a conspiracy.
Challenging the election, the petitioners approached the court complaining that Suresh was not entitled for the benefit of Reservation as he does not oblong to the Scheduled Caste community.
The court evaluating the evidence of various witnesses said that the evidence do not suggest that Suresh belongs to scheduled caste community.
`Even if various certificates produced by Kodikunnil are accepted, it would not prove that Suresh belongs to Scheduled Caste," it observed.
Referring to a certificate dated Oct 25, 1979 that Suresh had embraced Hinduism as per Sudhi certificate by Kerala Hindu Mission and his name in the SSLC book is Manianna J and he was a `Cheramar Christian", the court said it cannot be accepted.
It said evidence has been established that the Mission President had been issuing certificates after receiving donations and fees.
The certificate was issued when he was minor and a minor could not not have exercised his discretion, it held adding the certificate would also not not establish that Suresh has been accepted by the Cheramar community in their fold.
Hence, from the evidence it can be held that even though Suresh has been professing Hinduism there was no no acceptable evidence to prove that he has been as a member either of `Cheramar` or `Pulaya` communities of the Scheduled Caste, the court said.
Suresh tried to establish his case by claiming that he was invited for the function of Kerala Pulaya Mahasabha in Kochi, which showed that he was accepted by them in their community.
However, the court said the same function was addressed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly, KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala. By their participation they do not not become members of Pulaya community, the court held.
"By attending the meeting, it cannot be said Suresh was accepted as member by the Pulaya community," the court said.
Suresh had produced two certificates issued by two Tahsildars. While Nedumangad tahsildar certificate shows his caste as `Hindu Cheramar`, Kottarakara Tahsildar`s certificates show him as `Hindu Pulaya`.
The court held that the two certificates were not not reliable.
The petitioner, Anil, contended that two certificates were issued within one hour and without conducting any enquiry. The marriage certificate of Suresh was not not in accordance with rites of Pulaya or Cheramar communities, he had contended.