India

Karnataka: Councillor with BPL card loses post after court finds he has 500 kg jewellery

A magistrate court has declared as null and void the election of a JD(S) councillor to a local body here, after he did not rebut the petitioner’s claims of possessing 500 kg ornaments despite having a BPL card.

Senior Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate of First Class of Sira, Geethanjali G found K Ravishankarcouncillor of Ward-9 of Sira City Municipal Council, guilty of suppressing facts in his election affidavit.

Defeated Congress candidate M Krishnappa had filed the election petition before the court in the aftermath of polls to the city municipal council in Sira held on December 30, 2021.

It was alleged that Ravishankar had hidden the fact in the election affidavit that he was convicted in criminal cases. He also disclosed that he possessed 500 kg of gold and received Rs 3.6 lakh in rent. However, he possessed a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card.

In his submission to the court, Ravishankar stated that he had forgotten about the old criminal cases. He claimed that he had 499.5 kg of silver and only 500 grams of gold. But he had mentioned them together in the affidavit. However, he did not enter the witness box to make his statements.

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“This court opines that there is an overwhelming evidence to demonstrate about suppression of information by the petitioner which breaches the fundamental right of the voters guaranteed under the Constitution and right to know which is exclusive of freedom of speech and expression as held in the aforesaid decision,” the court said in its August 26 judgement partly allowing the petition filed under the Karnataka Municipalities Act1964.

“From going through the oral as well as documentary evidence placed before this court, it is of the opinion that the respondent No.1 has suppressed the material facts and given false affidavit which amounts to undue influence and corrupt practice as held by Hon’ble Supreme Court in several decisions and the respondent No.1 except filing his objection has not stepped into the witness box to rebut the evidence of the petitioner’s side,” the court said in its judgement.

“He also admits that he possessed 500 kg of ornaments though in his written statement contended that he has got only 499.5 kg silver worth Rs 37,46,250 and 500 grams of gold worth of Rs 7,53,750,” the court said pointing out that this was contrary to the income certificate and BPL card he possessed.

Declaring his election as null and void, the court said the admission given by the Ravishankar in the absence of rebuttal evidence leads to an adverse inference to be drawn against the respondent for non-stepping into witness box in spite of serious allegations supported by documentary evidence.

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