Odisha HC rejects cong MLA Moquim’s prayer, uncertainty over contesting elections

Cuttack,10/04/2024: Mohammed Moquim, a senior Congress leader and MLA for Cuttack-Barabati, suffered a serious setback today when the High Court denied his appeal against the conviction in a corruption case that a vigilance court had handed down against him. This comes just before the elections. Md. Moquim, managing director of Metro Builders Pvt. Ltd., IAS officer Vinod Kumar, and other defendants were found guilty on September 29, 2022, by Special Judge Vigilance, Bhubaneswar, of obtaining financial advantage for the real estate company under the guise of loans intended for rural poor from Odisha Rural Housing & Development Corporation Ltd (ORHDC).
Moquim was sentenced by the court to three years of imprisonment, a fine of Rs. fifty thousand, and six months of additional incarceration should he fail to pay the fine. Moquim proceeded right away to the Orissa High Court to contest his conviction. Among other things, he filed a petition asking for the conviction to be stayed until the appeal was resolved. Upon determining that this was an exceptional situation to stay the order of conviction, the High Court stayed the conviction on October 19, 2022, pending the outcome of an appeal. State Vigilance then appealed the High Court’s order dated 19.10.2022 with an SLP to the Supreme Court of India.
In an order dated September 22, 2023, the Supreme Court instructed the High Court to resolve the appeal that was pending before it within six months of the order’s date. Consequently, the conviction verdict issued by the Court of Special Judge Vigilance, Bhubaneswar, was upheld by the HC’s order today dismissing Moquim’s appeal. Unless he receives some respite from the supreme court, it is now almost clear that the Congress leader will not be permitted to run in the 2019 elections. According to the People’s Representatives Act of 1951, a politician cannot run for office again for at least six years following a conviction of two years or more. Moquim would not be permitted to run in the next election, according to senior BJD leader and Rajya Sabha member Debashish Samantray, since he has been convicted for longer than three years.

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