‘Prima facie, speech by Anto’s wife in a religious meet was a corrupt practice’
The High Court on Wednesday admitted a petition filed by Veena George, who was the CPI(M) candidate from the Pathanamthitta constituency in the Lok Sabha election, challenging the election of her rival and Congress candidate Anto Antony.
Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar, while admitting the petition, observed that prima facie, the speech delivered by Grace Antony, wife of Mr. Antony at a meeting of the Pentecostal church faithful would make out a corrupt practice as defined under Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act as it directly and indirectly canvassed votes not on the ground of ‘religious affinity’ but on the ground of ‘religious conflict.’
The allegation of Ms. George was that Mr. Antony’s wife, a follower of Pentecost faith, had attended several meetings after her husband had filed the nomination papers, and appealed to the faithful at these meetings to vote for Mr. Antony.
She contended that the conduct of Ms. Antony in making use of the platform meant for religious worship to canvass votes with the knowledge and consent of her husband was a corrupt practice.
Other charges dismissed
The court, however, struck down the other charges levelled by the petitioner against the United Democratic Front candidate, including the one relating non-disclosure of assets and liabilities in the affidavit along with the nomination and overspending in the election.