On Friday, Delhi High Court dismissed the petition filed by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda which sought a stay on his conviction order for the coal block allocation case so that he could contest the public office elections. A single-judge bench headed by Justice Vibhu Bakhru dismissed Koda's petition stating that he could contest the elections once he was 'acquitted'. The court added that it is of the view that the appellant Koda has a prima facie case, however, the court is not persuaded to accept that his conviction is liable to be stayed on this ground alone.
"It would not be apposite to facilitate the appellant to contest elections for any public office, till he is finally acquitted," said Justice Vibhu Bakhru. "The appellant has been convicted of an offence after trial. One of the consequences of the conviction is that the appellant is not qualified to run for public office. While it is contended that this would lead to injustice and irreversible consequences, the court must also consider wider ramifications of the same," added the court.
The court said that during these times, there was an increasing demand for the decriminalization of politics, stating that a large number of persons with criminal antecedents or those charged with heinous crimes stand for and are elected to Legislative Assemblies and the Parliament.
"If the wider opinion is that persons charged with crimes ought to be disqualified from contesting elections to public offices, it would not be apposite for the Court to stay the appellant's conviction to overcome the disqualification incurred by him," the court said.
Koda was the Chief Minister of Jharkhand from September 2006 to August 23, 2008. He along with others was convicted by the trial court in December 2017 for criminal misconduct and abusing his position as a public servant and favouring the allocation of Rajhara Coal Block to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Limited in what came to be known as the coal block allocation case.