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SC ruling on MLA vote helps Cong save RS seat | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the vote cast by an MLA of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in the 2018 Rajya Sabha election hours before his conviction, sentencing and subsequent disqualification as a legislator, was valid, thus saving Congress from a member of the upper house of Parliament, who had won by a very narrow margin.
The interesting question before a court of CJI SA Bobde and judges AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian was whether the vote cast by an MLA in a poll of Rajya Sabha, on the morning of the election date, would be invalid upon disqualification, such as consequence of a conviction and sentence imposed by a criminal court, in the afternoon of the same day?
In RS’s poll for two Jharkhand seats on March 23, 2018, three candidates were in the fray: Pradeep Kumar Sonthalia, Samir Uraon (both from the BJP) and Dhiraj Prasad Sahu (Congress). With each vote from each MLA contributing 100 points, the value of the votes for the three candidates was Sonthalia (2,599), Uraon (2,601) and Sahu (2,600). The scrutineer declared Uraon and Sahu elected for the RS. On election day, JMM MLA Amit Kumar Mahto cast his vote at 9.15am and at 2.30pm he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison and subsequently disqualified.
BJP urged the teller to reject Mahto’s vote saying that if a person is found guilty, sentenced and disqualified on the date of the vote, their vote could not be considered valid. “In our opinion, holding that an MLA was disqualified even before being convicted would violate their substantive right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.”

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