HC annuls Devikulam election result; MLA Raja ineligible for SC reservation

Devikulam MLA A Raja.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has annulled the election of CPM candidate A Raja from the Devikulam reserved seat during the 2021 Kerala Legislative Assembly poll.

The court found A Raja ineligible for Scheduled Caste (SC) reservation as he is a Christian convert from an SC community.

The second-placed Congress candidate D Kumar had filed a petition in the HC challenging Raja's victory.

The petition had claimed that Raja, who is a Christian, contested the election by submitting false documents to prove he belonged to a Scheduled Caste.

The High Court had ordered that Raja face trial in the case.

Reacting to the verdict, Kumar said: "Truth has triumphed. The government has paid the price for harming the interests of the Scheduled Castes."

In the 2021 Assembly elections, A Raja won from the Devikulam constituency against Congress candidate D Kumar by a margin of 7,847 votes. The Devikulam assembly seat in the Idukki district is reserved for Scheduled Castes.

According to the petitioner, Raja, who was born to Christian parents Anthony and Esther, has always lived as a Christian. "Raja's wife Shinypriya is also a Christian and their marriage took place as per Christian faith," argued D Kumar.

The wedding photo of Raja and Shinypriya was presented in the court as evidence. In the photo, a cross was inscribed on the locket of the necklace.

Based on the Supreme Court's ruling that the statute of limitations does not apply in the time of Covid, the court found that the petition has not lapsed and the dispute regarding caste should be decided after collecting detailed evidence. Adv M Narendra Kumar appeared for D Kumar.

A Raja to appeal in Supreme Court against verdict

The CPM state secretariat has allowed Raja to appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict.

The appeal will be filed after examining Raja's KIRTAD (Kerala Institute for Research Training & Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) documents.

The party centres say there is hope as there's been a favourable stand from the Supreme Court in some cases of similar nature.

Though the court ruled Raja was not eligible, it also did not agree to Kumar's request to declare him the winner of the constituency.

Setback for CPM

Devikulam is a bastion of the CPM. Tamils, who constitute 62 per cent of the total electorate, have been representing Devikulam in the State Assembly for a long time.

Among the majority electorate, voters from Pallar and Paraya communities have a bigger say in the poll outcome. 

The divide in Pallar and Paraya communities bothered the CPM much before the 2021 polls. The CPM had picked Raja after sidelining popular legislator S Rajendran.  

Rajendran has been one of the tallest CPM leaders in the Idukki district and represented the Devikulam Assembly constituency for three terms from 2006 onwards.

Raja is from the Paraya community. He won the party ticket pipping R Eshwaran who too was on the short-list. Eshwaran belongs to the Pallar community. 

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