Plea In Kerala HC To Enable Voters To File Anti-Defection Petitions

A petition has been filed before the Kerala High Court on Friday challenging Section 4 of the Kerala Local Authorities (Prohibition of Defection) Act, 1999. This section excludes voters from filing petitions to disqualify elected members of local bodies on grounds of defection.

Justice Mohammed Nias CP sought the response of the State Government and the State Election Commission (SEC) regarding the matter on Friday.

Case Insights

The petition was filed by Baburaj Thottukara, who is seeking the disqualification of Poulin Thomas from the Eruvessy Grama Panchayat in Kannur district. Thomas was elected as an independent candidate in the 2020 Local Self Government elections but joined the Indian National Congress in 2021.

Citing this change in affiliation, Baburaj approached the SEC to disqualify Thomas for defection under Section 3 of the Kerala Local Authorities (Prohibition of Defection) Act, 1999.

However, the SEC dismissed the petition, citing Section 4 of the Act, which stipulates that only a member of the local authority, the concerned political party, or a person authorized by the political party can file such a disqualification petition.

Aggrieved by this decision, Baburaj approached the High Court, challenging both the provision and the SEC’s decision. He highlighted that the 1999 Act aims to prevent defection among members of local authorities and to ensure political accountability and stability.

Baburaj argued that the exclusion of voters from Section 4 undermines the Act’s purpose, as it leaves voters without any remedy if local authority members or political parties do not take action against defectors. He stated that this exclusion creates an unreasonable classification among individuals with a legitimate interest in maintaining the electoral mandate, thus violating Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution of India.

Baburaj was represented by advocates Manas P. Hameed and Ipsita Ojal.

The matter is listed for hearing after two weeks.

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About the Author: Meera Verma