The Bombay High Court has rejected a BJP MLA's petition seeking a stay of the governor's order disqualifying him following his conviction for electricity theft. A division bench of judges Abhay Oka and Girish Kulkarni refused to grant Suresh Halvankar any relief and on the matter of seeking re-election to the state legislature, left it in the hands of the returning officer to decide on his nomination. Halvankar was elected from Ichalkaranji in 2009.
The BJP leader, who owns a power loom unit in the textiles hub, and his brother were found guilty of stealing electricity amounting to nearly Rs21 lakh from the state electricity board and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs10,000 in may.
They were charged under the Electricity Act after a flying squad detected that the power supply meter at their factory was tampered with and running 45 per cent slower than normal.
Halvankar appealed to the high court saying that the factory was managed by his brother and that he was not involved in the day-to-day operations. The court admitted his appeal and stayed his conviction.
However, the governor had already passed an order disqualifying Halvankar before the court stayed the conviction. So the BJP leader filed another petition seeking a direction to the returning officer to accept his nomination for the election.
Ganesh Sovani, counsel for the BJP leader, argued that in view of a Supreme Court order, as the high court had stayed the conviction this would be deemed as suspension from the date of conviction, that is May. Sovani said they would approach the Supreme Court on Friday.